It is clear that the New York Yankees are willing to give Aaron Hicks another opportunity as the starting left-fielder in 2023. While Rafael Ortega and Willie Calhoun have been hitting well during spring training, the Bombers want Hicks to maximize his contract and return to his former self, which is three years removed.
For the time being, the Yankees are keen on sitting still and waiting until the trade deadline over the summer to make any moves, which is a smart decision. Ultimately, the Yanks could make an acquisition now, but they run the risk of an injury occurring, similar to what happened to Andrew Benintendi last year, knocking him out for the postseason and hurting the Yankees’ chances at a World Series.
Despite having Hicks in the outfield to start 2022, the Yankees still had one of the best offenses in baseball during the first half of the season. It wasn’t until after the All-Star break that things began to fall apart due to injury and inconsistencies.
With that being said, there should be no rush to acquire a left fielder now when they can wait until the deadline and likely land a great talent at a cheaper cost. The obvious solution would be Bryan Reynolds, who’s been heavily connected to the Yankees in recent months.
The Yankees are still keeping tabs on Bryan Reynolds:
The Pirates have tried to extend Reynolds, offering him a six-year, $80 million deal at the end of last year, but he refused with ease. Reynolds is looking for a deal worth $134 million over eight years, per Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic, paying him $16.75 million per season on average, which isn’t astronomical.
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The Pirates wanted a Juan Soto type of trade package in exchange for Reynolds this off-season, but if the Yankees wait patiently until the trade deadline, that asking price will likely reduce.
According to Yankees executives, the Pirates are telling interested clubs they want to keep trying to lock up Reynolds at least until the All-Star break.
But if Reynolds isn’t signed long-term by then, the Pirates may be a lot more reasonable in trade talks than they were over the winter.Via Randy Miller of NJ.com.
As long as Reynolds hasn’t locked up a new contract with Pittsburgh, he will likely force his way out, and the Yankees have plenty of pieces to move if need be. Despite not having top pitching prospects, after moving two of their notable guns in exchange for Frankie Montas and Scott Effross, parting ways with other assets would be essential.
Of course, players like Gleyber Torres stand out, given he has one year left of control before hitting free agency in 2025, and who’s to say they don’t try to move Oswald Peraza with Anthony Volpe making the jump to the majors? One way or another, it is realistic to think that the Yankees will try to improve the left field position heading into the playoffs, and Reynolds is certainly one of the best options available.
To give you some context into how talented Reynolds is, the 28-year-old hit .262 with a .345 OBP, 27 homers, and 62 RBIs last year. In 2021, he hit a stellar .302, featuring a .390 OBP, 24 homers, and 90 RBIs. Given his switch-hitting bat, Reynolds would offer elite offense in Yankee Stadium. He’s also a far better left-fielder than any other OF spot.
One way or another, Reynolds will cost a pretty penny to any team that is looking to acquire his services. Still, if the Yankees see left field as a vulnerability over the summer and feel they have a realistic shot at making the World Series, they should pull the trigger and lock him in for the next few years, since he won’t hit free agency until 2026.