Yankees showing interest in this 27-year-old closer in free agency

MLB: Wildcard-Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

One could argue that the Yankees’ bullpen has been their most consistent unit over the years since hiring Matt Blake and Sam Briend, but according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, they could look to add another arm to that bullpen. Jordan Hicks spent last season with the St. Louis Cardinals before being shipped off at the trade deadline to the Toronto Blue Jays, and the hard-throwing right-hander posted a 3.29 ERA across 65.2 innings with a 58.3% groundball rate.

Last season the Yankees finished with a league-best 3.34 ERA from their relievers, but after the trade for Juan Soto, the team is looking for ways to replenish their Major League pitching depth. Hicks, who is entering his age-27 season, could be an impact addition that gives the Yankees baseball’s best bullpen once again.

Yankees Looking to Add Bullpen Depth

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Sep 20, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) reacts during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Hicks had a career year in 2023, finally putting together a healthy season and proving to be one of the best relievers in all of baseball. His stuff is superb, as the flamethrower averages 100.1 MPH on his sinker with 15.8 inches of arm-side run, and it had an excellent +12 Run Value and .305 xwOBACON, making it a strong damage prevention pitch that could also help him keep the ball on the ground. As mentioned earlier, Hicks excels at generating contact on the ground, resulting in just four home runs allowed all season.

His sweeping slider was a new weapon for him this past season, generating a whopping 59.5% Whiff Rate with 12.4 inches of sweep at 86.8 MPH, and allowing him to strike out a career-best 81 batters in 2023. Jordan Hicks had a 149 Stuff+ on his sweeper, and once he ditched his gyro slider for a sweeping slider, he pitched to a 2.40 ERA and 30% strikeout rate, a change that would help him become a hot commodity at the deadline, and this offseason as well.

An overall Stuff+ of 126 is elite, and pairing his .327 xwOBACON with a 28.2% Whiff Rate shows his incredible ability to pair swing-and-miss stuff with excellent damage control. This bodes well for a bullpen role, where you’re often coming into high-leverage situations with close scores and home run prevention is a premium with runners on or in a one-run contest where a blast can turn a game on its head.

If the Yankees were to add an arm like Jordan Hicks, they would be getting a reliever with excellent upside and projectability due to his young age, and his contract shouldn’t be absurd either. FanGraphs believes he’ll net a three-year deal at $27 million, which is $9 million in AAV and wouldn’t hamstring the Yankees in any potential endeavors on the free agent or trade markets.

mlb: cincinnati reds at chicago cubs, yankees, marcus stroman
Jul 31, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (0) pitches during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Morosi reported earlier this week that the Yankees have shown interest in Marcus Stroman and even reported it as the likeliest outcome for the 32-year-old right-hander. Pitching is a priority for the New York Yankees, as they look to complement the additions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo with splashes in their pitching staff. It’s unlikely that the Yankees part ways with a prospect like Spencer Jones to do so, but they could use their financial muscle to land a starter in free agency.

They could also get creative and supercharge their bullpen on top of a middle-of-the-rotation addition like Marcus Stroman, and Jordan Hicks would certainly be a notable upgrade for New York’s already-stellar bullpen. You can never have too much pitching, and given how injured the Yankees were last season, they’re likely preparing for a potential doomsday scenario like last year where they lost three starters before Opening Day and had to use a rookie starter on their third game of the season.

Wherever Jordan Hicks may end up landing, it’s clear that the Yankees have interest, and this could be a worthwhile addition for high-leverage situations and give Aaron Boone another weapon to work with.

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