Yankees tried to trade two starting players with bloated contracts at deadline

Alexander Wilson
aaron hicks, yankees
Jul 21, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Aaron Hicks (31) reacts after crossing home plate to score a run against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees were extremely active leading up to the deadline on Tuesday evening, but general manager Brian Cashman was unable to make a few big last-second deals.

The team was in serious talks with the Miami Marlins for Pablo López, one of the top starting pitchers being floated. However, the two sides were unable to come to an agreement, but we did learn that Gleyber Torres was included in negotiations.

However, there were two other starting players with bloated contracts the Cashman was trying to unload to clear salary space for next season and beyond.

According to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, the Yankees tried to offload Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson to clear salary space for next year.

They also considered ways to move the salaries tied to Aaron Hicks (reminder of $10.5 million this year, $30 million over next three years) and Josh Donaldson (remainder of $25 million this year and $25 million next year) but never had any traction.

Aaron Hicks is having another down year for the Yankees:

This year, Hicks has played 93 games, more than his previous three seasons. The last time he played over 60 games was back in 2018, showcasing how many injuries he’s dealt with over the past few seasons. Currently, Hicks is batting .223 with a 34.4% on-base rate, six homers, and 31 RBIs. He holds a 22% strike-out rate and 14.8% walk rate, making the transition to left field with Aaron Judge taking over in center.

Cashman was looking to take his financial implications off the books since he’s in the middle of a seven-year, $70 million contract. He will earn $10.5 million next season and $9.5 million until 2026 when the club has a $1 million buyout option.

That leaves the Yankees paying $10 million per season on average over the next three years, and given the lengthy cold streaks he experiences, it would’ve been beneficial to move him at the deadline, opening up another roster spot come the playoffs.

It was also reported that Josh Donaldson was trying to be unloaded as well. This year, Donaldson is batting .220 with a 30% on-base rate, including 10 homers and 38 RBIs over 85 games.

Donaldson is having a Gold Glove-caliber season at third base, but for the first time since 2012, he’s earned a wRC+ below 100, sitting at 96.

Donaldson is owed a monstrous $21 million for the 2023 season, including a $6 million mutual option in 2024. Ultimately, the Yankees will have to pay $27 million over the next two seasons just to get rid of him unless they can find a buyer during the winter months to take on his salary, which is unlikely unless paired with a bigger trade.

We’ve seen Cashman work magic before, but these two players are set to count over $31 million next season to make a minimal impact on offense. It is no surprise that Cashman was trying to move Hicks and Donaldson before the deadline, but now he has to figure out how to utilize them properly the rest of the way, especially when their bats go cold.