Yankees took on $30 million for outcast outfielder to dominate with the Orioles

aaron hicks, yankees
Jul 9, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks (31) rounds third after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

In an ideal world, the New York Yankees would be boasting an outfielder with the impressive recent performance displayed by Aaron Hicks.

The team decided to cut ties with Hicks due to his disappointing performance and dramatic regression. The logic behind letting him go was correct and justified.

However, Hicks has since experienced a complete turnaround with the Baltimore Orioles, prompting second thoughts on the Yankees’ decision.

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The Right Decision at the Wrong Time?

The decision to release Hicks appeared sound at the time, given his disappointing numbers over several years with the Yankees. In 28 games this season, Hicks hit a low .188 with a .263 OBP, accompanied by a high strikeout rate of 26.3%.

Yet, in his new home with the Orioles, Hicks has drastically turned his fortunes around. In just 25 games, he has achieved a .260 batting average, a .380 OBP, hit four home runs, and driven in 11 RBIs. His strikeout rate has improved to 20.7%, his walk rate to 16.3%, and he boasts an impressive 142 wRC+.

To put that into context, he only managed a 49 wRC+ with the Yankees before his departure. Now, his performance ranks him as a player 42% better than the MLB average.

Unraveling the Mystery of Hicks’ Turnaround

Hicks’ dramatic shift in form seems baffling without considering the potential lack of confidence and motivation he might have experienced in New York. Additionally, Hicks’ defensive prowess has improved with the Orioles, achieving 1 out above average — the first time he has recorded a positive number in this category since 2017.

The Yankees’ choice to bear the remaining $30 million on Hicks’ contract means his new team gets him at a significant discount. Despite this, it’s clear he still has the potential to contribute positively at the MLB level.

The Aftermath: A Costly Oversight for the Yankees

Watching Hicks’ resurgence with the Orioles is a bitter pill for the Yankees to swallow. They now find themselves needing to engage in the trade market at the deadline to acquire an above-average offensive player — a role Hicks appears to have found in Baltimore.

This situation raises questions: Are there internal issues within the Yankees, or did Hicks’ poor performance stem from negative fan reactions and boos? Whatever the reason, the Yankees have had to bear a costly consequence, watching a player they financed blossom elsewhere.