Yankees paying outcast outfielder $19 million to play elsewhere

mlb: alds-texas rangers at baltimore orioles, yankees, aaron hicks
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Yankees committed to a seven-year, $70 million contract with outfielder Aaron Hicks, they envisioned him as a long-term asset for the team. Hicks, once known for his potential and consistency, seemed like a solid investment. However, a series of injuries and mounting pressure from fans led to a decline in his performance with the Yankees.

Hicks’ Struggle and Resurgence

Hicks’ tenure with the Yankees reached a tipping point in 2023. Limited to just 28 games, his performance drastically fell, resulting in a .188/.263/.261 batting line and a disappointing 49 wRC+. His struggles led to the Yankees designating him for assignment. But a move to the Baltimore Orioles marked a turning point.

In 65 games with Baltimore, Hicks improved significantly, hitting .275/.381/.425, including seven home runs and 31 RBIs. This turnaround highlighted the impact a change of scenery can have on a player’s performance.

Now 34, Hicks continues to demonstrate his value, albeit away from the pressures of playing for the Yankees. Despite his departure, the Yankees are still obligated to pay him $19 million in luxury tax salary over the next two seasons.

Hicks’ New Chapter with the Angels

Preparing for a fresh start, Hicks has agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels, aiming to strengthen their outfield. His journey reflects the unpredictable nature of long-term contracts in baseball and the challenges players face in adapting to different team environments.

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Yankees’ Contractual Challenges

The Yankees are currently managing several significant contracts that impact their financial flexibility. Giancarlo Stanton’s contract is notable, and they are also committed to paying Josh Donaldson $6 million on his vesting option for the 2024 season.

These contractual obligations have influenced General Manager Brian Cashman’s approach to the free-agent market. Cashman’s cautious stance, particularly in the wake of potential deals like pursuing Blake Snell, is shaped by a desire to avoid repeating past mistakes and ensure sustainable financial management for the team’s future.