Yankees call-up an old friend from Triple-A, leadoff hitter goes on paternity leave

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks hits a home-run against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The New York Yankees are gearing up to face off against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday evening after sweeping the Cleaveland Guardians over the weekend.

The Yankees currently feature a 10–6 record and have finally hit their stride both offensively and defensively. The starting pitching has been phenomenal the past few games, and the offense finally came to play in the final game against Cleveland, recording a healthy 10 runs.

However, before Tuesday’s home game against Baltimore, the Yankees announced they had placed outfielder Aaron Hicks on paternity leave (congratulations to Aaron and his family!).

With Hicks now unavailable for the next few games, at least, the team announced they had called up Miguel Andujar from AAA to help supplement his loss. Hicks had taken over nicely as the team’s lead-off hitter, hitting .273 to open the year with one homer and four RBIs. His 16.7% strikeout rate is one of the lowest on the team, and he also boasts a 14.8% walk rate.

Over 13 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Andújar is hitting .347 with three homers and six RBIs over 53 plate appearances. He features an 18.9% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate but has showcased his offensive capabilities.

Defensively, Miggy has featured at multiple positions, including third base, left field, and as the team’s DH. Over 44 innings on the hot corner in AAA, Andújar allowed two errors. He was efficient in the left-field position over 45 innings, but the Yankees will likely try to keep him out of the outfield until Hicks returns, if possible.

I would expect Andujar to serve as the team’s DH or only fill a supplemental role if need be since Tim Locastro has looked good in recent days and should cover for Hicks.

 

The Yankees might have found their lead-off man after hot start to season

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks has already gotten off to a fast start as this season gets underway, and now the Yankees are left with a rather odd predicament. While many, prior to this season, were clamoring for DJ to be out of the leadoff spot, there’s a case to be made that he’s been the team’s best bat.

Therefore, he should bat leadoff if he’s getting hits, or of course, bat either fifth or sixth, where his situational hitting can shine. Hicks has found his spot, and that is the leadoff spot. His ability to see pitches, work counts, and simply put the ball in play has been great for the Yankees to start this season. 

At the beginning of the season, Hicks spoke with reporter Bryan Hoch, and stated his lofty ambitions for this year. “There is something special about 30-30,” Hicks said. “For me, I want to steal more, and I feel like 30 home runs are reachable for me. Those two together are a dangerous pair. That’s definitely something I would like to do.”

If Hicks is able to put together a 30-30 season, nay a 20-20 season, the Yankees couldn’t possibly ask more from him. While it is easy to gripe on players that struggle in big moments, the hate for Hicks seems to run deeper than it should. 

For starters, many fans are outraged over the state of the game due to the un-juiced baseballs. That change has led to a rather abysmal MLB average triple slash and a historically low power-driven start to the year. Below is a chart comparing Hicks’ stats this season and the MLB average (prior to Monday’s games):

AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA ISO
MLB .232 .308 .368 .676 .307 .137
HICKS .275 .388 .350 .738 .335 .075

Hicks doesn’t need to swing for the fences, and he should be encouraged not to be that style of player. What every Yankees fan, like myself, had wanted Hicks to do, was be a guy that gets on base. There’s never going to be a doubt about his ability to work counts and show his elite plate discipline, and if he’s able to consistently get hits to go with that, that will be a huge weapon for the team going forward.

Hicks’ 124 wRC+ is fourth on the squad to start this year, and that is thanks in-part to his 16.0% BB Rate and his focus on simply making contact with the ball. The year is young, and there’s much more to be seen, but if Hicks can keep playing like this, then he may have another 4.0 fWAR season coming his way.

Projecting the Yankees’ starting outfield for the 2022 season

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees are heading into the 2022 season with a solid group of outfielders, despite losing Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade this off-season. There’s a chance that veteran OF Brett Gardner makes a return, as he usually does at the end of the off-season, but the team should be in a good place if he elects to retire.

The projected outfield has plenty of depth and quality starters, but management does have to make an interesting decision in left field with Giancarlo Stanton.

Yankees projected starting outfield for the 2022 season:

RF: Aaron Judge

Judge spent 158 innings last year in centerfield, but the star slugger will likely start the 2022 season in his natural position in right field. With over 4,000 innings of experience and a .987 fielding percentage, Judge features one of the best arms in all of baseball in the outfield. Aside from his defensive prowess, Judge is also an elite offensive player, hitting .287 last year with 39 homers and 98 RBIs. His strikeout rate at 25% was the lowest of his five-year career since 2017.

The major question is, where will the Yankees feature Giancarlo Stanton?

There is a possibility that Judge features in center-field over Aaron Hicks, which would allow Stanton to take over in LF or RF. However, management may want to maintain Stanton’s help at all costs, making him their everyday designated hitter.

CF: Aaron Hicks

With Aaron Hicks making a return from injury after being shut down with a wrist issue last year, he projects to be the starting center-fielder come April 7. Hicks played in just 32 games last year before heading to the injured list, hitting .194 with four homers and 14 RBIs. In fact, Hicks hasn’t played in more than 59 games the past three years consecutively, so having depth is essential for the Yankees.

Nonetheless, Hicks has the most experience in center, featuring over 4,800 innings of play. His .993 fielding percentage is also stellar, so the Yankees can feel confident about their defensive production in CF. When it comes to Hicks, though, it boils down to health, meaning the Yankees have to have a contingency plan in place.

LF: Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo has experience playing left and right field, but since Aaron Judge is projected to sign a massive extension in the coming weeks, he is shifted over to the left side so Judge can retain his normal position. Gallo has 1,583 innings of experience in LF, recording a .983 fielding percentage. He is a multi-time Gold Glove winner, coming off a disappointing campaign in 2021, despite making the All-Star game.

During the first portion of the year, he recorded 25 homers and a .223 average, but his efficiency dropped off significantly when he joined the Yankees at the deadline. He hit just .160 with 13 homers during the last 58 games of the season wearing pinstripes,  but the Yankees see him playing a significant role moving forward, and he will fill the left-field spot effortlessly.

Yankees News: Luke Voit, Aaron Hicks battling injury returns, starting pitching support on the way

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees face an interesting next few weeks as players gear up for the start of the 2022 season without the assurances required from ownership. The CBA is still in the works with core economic issues left to solve — the luxury tax remains their biggest hurdle. The hope is both the Players Union and owners will begin to meet more frequently without risking the regular season being compromised.

Prior to the lockout, the Yankees were quiet, passing on big money acquisitions and waiting for the new luxury tax to drop to see how much flexibility they have. That could end up backfiring since there will be a frenzy when the market opens back up, presenting a ton of competition for the leftover players.

General manager Brian Cashman still has plenty of moves left to make, specifically regarding positions that have been impacted by injury. First base and centerfield could use a bit more support after both Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit went down last season, missing 90 games apiece, at least.

Without the team facilities and trainers, working their way back has been even more tumultuous.

“We’re just getting work in where we can,’’ Luke Voit said last week. “It’s a little bit harder not being able to use the [team] facility, but we don’t want to get too far behind for whenever we do start.”

Voit played 68 games last season, hitting .239 with 11 homers after a lucrative 2020 season where he led the MLB with 22 home runs. There is no guarantee that Voit won’t be replaced at first base, especially if the Yankees are willing to splash big money on Freddie Freeman. Nonetheless, Voit has stated that he will find a different place to play first if the Yankees won’t give him an opportunity.

Hicks, on the other hand, has spent two of his last three seasons injured, playing 32 games last year. He featured a .194 batting average with four homers and 14 RBIs, putting the Yankees in a tough spot after extending him on a seven-year, $70 million deal. The Yankees desperately need more value from Hicks, who has been nothing short of disappointing ever since signing a fresh contract.

Hicks has been getting some action during Winter League play, but he could’ve used this time with the team trainers and regimen to help rehabilitate.

Another important player who has dealt with injuries the past two seasons is starting pitcher Luis Severino.

Severino pitched just 6.0 innings last year at 27 years old, enjoying just a combined 18 innings over the past three years. Severino has battled two Tommy John surgery‘s but still maintained an adequate fastball pace despite lengthy rehabilitation timelines.

Over such a small sample size last year, his fastball touched 95.3 mph on average. Compared to his 2018 season, where he averaged 97. 6 mph, he’s down quite significantly, but giving him more time to build up his strength should get that number a bit closer is ideal. With Corey Kluber hitting free agency and signing with the Tampa Bay Rays, Severino’s return is imperative.

Yankees News: David Cone breaks down Aaron Hicks issue, bullpen strength

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees undoubtedly face several big questions this off-season, especially with the Players Union and owners preparing to begin negotiating this week on core economic values.

Finding a shortstop for the 2022 season and beyond is a priority for general manager Brian Cashman, as current YES Network host David Cone confirmed recently.

Cone provided insight into the state of the Yankees’ bullpen and how the consistency of Aaron Hicks will play such an important part in the team’s success moving forward.

Here’s the full quote by David Cone, transcribed by NJ.com:

“It’s obviously going to be on the position-player side. I believe the Yankees and their pitching staff as a whole is in pretty good shape, particularly their bullpen. Pretty loaded. When you have two relievers like Clay Holmes and Jonathan Loaisiga that throw 99 mph demon sinkers, that’s a pretty good combination before you even get to the closer Chapman. So I think the bullpen will be as strong as it has been in the past year. Obviously, you need a shortstop. You need Aaron Hicks to come back and be solid in center field and you have to find that out. Some things you know you need right now as far as a position player and a shortstop. Another thing you need to find out in spring training when we eventually get there is how Aaron Hicks looks, whether he can play a full schedule and stay solid or not. Obviously, look at shortstop and that’s a big deal for them. Are they going to sign one of the big guys that’s still out there or a stopgap situation and wait for some of their prospects to get ready.”

Cone has a solid point with Loáisiga and Holmes. This past season, Loáisiga posted a career-best 2.17 ERA over 70.2 innings. He recorded an 8.79 strikeouts per nine and 60.9% ground ball rates. He also contributed a 3.01 SIERA and 3.15 xFIP, both career bests with a minimum of 30 innings pitched in a season.
Holmes is also an intriguing player the Yankees acquired from Pittsburgh last season. He hosted a 3.60 ERA over 70 innings, enjoying a four mph increase in sinker velocity. Holmes ended up playing a significant part in the Wild Card game, in which the Yankees lost, but he performed adequately.
Cone does have a great point regarding Aaron Hicks, who has dealt with injuries the past few seasons, derailing his progress as a Yankee. The team desperately needs him to come back and be a solid option in centerfield, whether it be in a reserve or start role. This off-season, losing Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier, and Brett Gardner left a massive void.

New York Yankees: Front office has no idea how injured players are rehabbing

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, jameson taillon

The New York Yankees have some players rehabbing from various health and injury issues, But because of the MLB imposed a lockout, the Yankees have no idea how they are advancing going into the 2022 season. Some of those affected are Aaron Hicks, DJ LeMahieu, and starting pitcher Jameson Taillon.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, not knowing how these players are doing further complicates plans for what the Yankees will do going forward after a new Collective Bargaining agreement is reached. At this point, all fans that follow the Yankees know that they need a full-time shortstop, a number two-type starting pitcher, a permanent first baseman, and help in center field. In addition to the injured players, they don’t know if the oft-injured Luke Voit is doing with his knees and feet.

When the December 1 expiration could not reach a new CBA, Commissioner Rob Manfred instituted lock-down forbidding front offices from contacting any players on their 40 man roster until a new agreement can be reached. Manager Aaron Boone addressed the situation last week.

“We tried to put our guys in the best position as far as our coaches at the time having those conversations and putting plans in place as we headed into December 1,” Boone said. “Hopefully, set them up with programs and things that they can follow and be in a good position once this is all settled, but we’ve had no contact. Obviously, it’s not ideal that we can’t have that contact and know how everyone’s doing, but we should get a decent idea in those early days of what we’re dealing with.”

Jameson Taillon: Probably for the Yankees that need an excellent pitcher to follow ace Gerrit Cole, they are most interested in how Jameson Taillon is doing with his rehab. Taillon turned 30 years old on November 18; he was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010. He was traded to the Yankees before the start of the 2021 season. Taillon got off to a slow start with the Yankees but gradually improved. He ended the season with an 8–6 record in 29 starts with a 4.30 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 144.3 innings. 

Unfortunately, he also ended the season suffering from a few torn ligaments in his ankle. If a pitcher can’t depend on his lower extremities, he can’t pitch. His best friend Gerrit Cole (they played together with the Pirates) and Yankee manager Aaron Boone would like to know how he is doing, but they will have to wait.

Aaron Hicks: The oft-injured Aaron Hicks has been injured several times during his time with the Yankees, and last season was no different; he missed 130 games, hitting only four home runs and batting a miserable .194. Hicks is rehabbing from a May 26 operation to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. Although being unable to speak with Hicks, there is an upside that we do know. In twelve games in the Dominican Winter Leagues, he hit .265 (13-for-49) with one home run. Boone would like to know hows he is doing after that stint.

DJ LeMahieu: DJ, after a spectacular season in 2020 winning the MLB batting title with a .367 batting average, had an underwhelming season last year, more than a hundred points lower and with only ten home runs. After the 2021 season, LeMahieu had sports hernia surgery on October 12. Boone would surely like to know how his recovery is coming along.

Along with these players, Boone most like would be interested in how Luke Voit is doing. Voit, the only first baseman the Yankees have right now, had feet and knee problems last season. The Yankees would like to know how he is doing. But, for the time being, the front office will have to monitor social media for any information, much like Yankees fans have to do.

New York Yankees: Don’t waste time, all the news in one place

jonathan villar, mets, yankees

Yankee slugger Aaron Judge makes bold prediction

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has been full of surprises this off-season. So far, the headline is that he married his long-time girlfriend, Samantha Bracksieck two weekends ago in a secret tropical wedding at Maui, Hawaii. But, that’s not all; he has now made a bold prediction.

Last season Judge had a beast of a season, carrying the team on his back, in his first fully healthy season since 2017. He hit .287 with 39 home runs while batting in nearly 100. He now has made the bold prediction that he will hit at least 50 home runs during his 2022 campaign. Looking at it seriously, it’s not out of the question. He hit 57 in 2017. The question will be if he can stay healthy to accomplish the lofty goal.

With Judge becoming a free agent for the first time at the end of the 2022 season, the other big question is if the Yankees will offer him a mega-contract keeping him as a lifelong Yankee. Unfortunately for the Yankees and Judge, will it get ugly when it comes time to do that? Most of it will depend on staying healthy two seasons in a row. If he can’t, the Yankees will be reluctant to extend him long-term.

Where will all the remaining big names end up?

If you want to believe Sports Illustrated, post-CBA doesn’t look good for the Yankees as it predicts where all the big remaining names will go, none of which go to the Yankees. The big bait out there, Carlos Correa, regardless of the news, will probably end up with his old manager A J Hinch, who is now managing the Detroit Tigers. Another big name favored by the Yankees, Freddie Freeman, will resign with the Atlanta Braves.

The Yankees have been targeting Trevor Story for a shortstop replacement. SI that previously had him going to the Rangers have switched gears and are now sending him to the Houston Astros to fill the Correa gap. There haven’t been many predictions that show a quality starting pitcher to the Yankees, but recently the name Carlos Rodon has come up as a possible fit for the Yankees; quell that, SI has him going to the rival Boston Red Sox.

You can also scratch outfielder and catcher Kyle Schwarber from playing in the Bronx; he will be going to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only signing that seems safe is the first baseman Anthony Rizzo returning to the Yankees. In a bizarre suggestion, there are some rumors that nut-case Zack Grienke of the Astros could end up with the Yankees. Let’s hope not.

How are the Yankees doing in Winter Ball?

Several Yankees have played winter ball in the Dominican Republic; their results aren’t exactly promising. Aaron Hicks played in 12 games, not producing; the only thing he has shown the Yankees is that he can stay healthy for twelve games. Miguel Andujar has been nothing short of a disaster in winter ball, hitting .161 and no home runs in eight games. He has to be hoping he will be traded with no position to play with the Yankees and his below-average defense.

Estevan Florial wasn’t much better; he hit .167 in nine games. Once a top Yankee prospect, his halo is quickly dimming. Florial has power and speed as his main attributes, but to show those off, you have to hit the ball; he strikes out far too much to be of any value.

On the pitching side, Luis Media was 0-0, 4.92 ERA, two starts, 3 2/3 IP, 6 K, 4 BB. Baseball America ranks Medina as the team’s No. 9 prospect, primarily due to his high 90s’ fastball. Don’t look for Media to be a starter for the Yankees any time soon. His lack of control challenges his fastball. He will probably start the season with the AA Somersets. If he starts at Scranton, he could be a piece out of the bullpen for the Yankees.

Right-hand pitcher Albert Abreu went 3-3, 2.25 ERA, 6 starts, 24 IP, 11 K, 10 BB. Abreu’s ERA is impressive, but he walks too many hitters. He will likely be in the Yankees bullpen as a last resort piece with his history and numbers. Catcher Rob Brantly didn’t exactly ring any bells in winter ball. He hit .125 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K, 0 BB, 8 AB, 2 games. Nevertheless, he will end up as the number one catcher at Scranton and the backup for Kyle Higashioka in the Bronx.

Now on the bright side: Outfielder Michael Beltre hit .293 with five RBIs, nine strikeouts, and two walks. He will likely start the season with the Rail Riders with his outfield depth and excellent showing at double-A Somerset. Should we have trouble in center, you could see him with the big team sometime in the season.

The most encouraging sign for the Yankees is Wandy Peralta, the righty that made an impact last season. In winter ball, he went  3-0, 3.72 ERA, 11 appearances, 9 2/3 IP, 15 K, 3 BB. He looks to be a mid to late-inning reliever again this season in the Bronx.

Is Jonathan Villar a fit for the Yankees?

There has been recent talk that Jonathan Villar could be a stop-gap measure for the Yankees, not at short but at third base. That move would require the Yankees to move Gio Urshela to short, where he performed well last season when needed.

With Anthony Volpe and Osward Peraza in the wings and probably ready for the 2023 season, the Yankees don’t appear to be ready to hire a big name to fill the spot at short, long term. Villar hits better than most stop-gap shortstop options out there but is not much of an upgrade for Torres at short, thus the third base suggestion where his defense is better. Villar has speed but lacks the home run numbers the Yankees would like to see. He may be a fit, but it also piques the question: What will become of DJ LeMahieu if the Yankees sign Anthony Rizzo as their 2022 first baseman?

Yankees create a bright Christmas for Bronx youth

For the twelfth year in a row, the Yankees have held their Christmas toy even to benefit the underserved kids of the Bronx that surrounds Yankee Stadium. Their Winter Wonderland Event Friday has delivered thousands of toys to local school children.

“Everybody knows the Yankees for being a champion on the field, but that same drive and focus is part of our commitment to being a productive member of this community,” said Brian Smith, the Yankees’ senior vice president of corporate community relations. “We’re happy to put a smile on these young peoples’ faces during the holiday season.”

In years previous to 2020, the event was held in the big hall at Yankee Stadium, where a child could come in a pick a toy of their choice. Unfortunately, last year and this year, that could not happen due to Covid restrictions. This season the event was held outside Yankee Stadium, but most of the toys will be distributed by the New York Yankee Partners right up until Christmas day.

New York Yankees News: Everything you need to know in one place

CC, Jeff Nelson suggests Frazier shut his trap

The New York Yankees designated their failed outfielder Clint Frazier for assignment on Nov. 19 and cut him days later; the move brought to an end his tremulous time with the Yankees. Frazier, now 27 years old, took a one-year $1.5 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. He is now taking shots at the Yankees in usual Clint Frazier form as his immaturity shines through yet again. Some ex-Yankees are not taking it lightly.

Pitcher Jeff Nelson has been one of the most outspoken:

“Here is something for you,” Nelson tweeted. “You can talk the talk but, you have not walked the walk. Love the confidence but, you have to do something on the field.” “Don’t talk s–t about the Yankees when they gave him a chance so, screw you,” Nelson tweeted.

Pitcher CC Sabathia chimed in: 

“If I see another Clint Frazier story, bro, I’m gonna punch somebody in the f–king face,” he said on the R2C2 Podcast, per Audacy’s John Healy. “S–t is ridiculous. That kid played 15 games in the f–king big leagues. Get the f–k out of here with all these stupid ass f–king stories.”

Seiyu Suzuki suggests no-no to the Red Sox via social media

The New York Yankees have been reportedly aggressive in their pursuit of Japanese stud outfielder Seiyu Suzuki. After the lockout is resolved, it is assumed that Brian Cashman will continue that pursuit. Last season the start outfielder had a Suzuki posted a .317 batting average with 38 homers and 88 RBIs, striking out 89 times over 439 at-bats. If the Yankees can land the right-fielder, it could solve two problems for the team. They could move star Aaron Judge to center where he played flawlessly last season, sometimes replacing the ill Aaron Hicks, and put Suzuki in right.

The Yankees were not the only team in hot pursuit of the star; the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays were also aggressive. But in a bit of good news for the Yankees is that Suzuki apparently has scrubbed the Red Sox off his list of teams he might be interested in playing for. He un-followed the Red Sox on social media.

Ex-Yankee Mike Tauchman Korea bound

Many New York Yankee fans were sorry to see lefty Mike Tauchman leave the Yankees. Last season he played only eleven games for the Yankees when they traded him to the San Francisco Giants. He played in only 64 games with the Giants with a .186 batting average. Now a free agent, he has signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization, receiving a $300K signing bonus and salary of $700K for a total of $1 million. Hopefully, the outfielder can savage his career overseas.

Aaron Hicks is healthy and reported ready for 2022

Reportedly center fielder Aaron Hicks is healthy and ready to take his place on the field. On the upside, he played winter ball in the Dominican, which is now over. He got off to a slow start but heated up near the end of the season. With the Leones del Escogido he played in twelve games, hitting 4 home runs and batting .265.

The big question with Hicks is if he can stay healthy. History has proven that when he can stay on the field for any time, his hitting improves. However, the Yankees are not counting on him staying healthy. After the lockout is resolved, the Yankees may look to replace him, making him a bench player.

Rob Brantly to be number 3 backstop

The Yankees have re-signed catcher Rob Brantly to a minor league contract. Brantly played six games for the Yankees during the 2021 season, collecting three hits in 21 at-bats. Most of Brantly’s playing time last season came with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .289 in 68 games. By signing Brantly, the Yankees will gain depth in triple -A and a third option at the Stadium, after Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka.

Yankees among the teams that re-invest small amounts back into the team

One big question for Yankee fans, is after the lockout is over, will the Yankees spend the necessary money to improve the team for 2022? The Yankees in the last few years have been among the teams that have spent the least of their revenues to re-invest in their team. In 2018 they spent just 29.5 and only 33% of revenues for payroll enhancement in the last reporting year, 2019. 

The Yankees have some pretty big holes to fill, notably getting a shortstop to play in place of Gleyber Torres that has been moved to second base. Many of the best options are already gone. They also need a valid number two starting pitcher to follow Gerrit Cole. Add to that they need help in center field and also have decisions to make at first base. Both owner Hal Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman have indicated that they are willing to spend, but as of this point have done nothing.

Yankees: Aaron Hicks ends his stint in the Dominican league with good sensations and acceptable numbers

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

New York Yankees’ center fielder Aaron Hicks finished his stint with Leones del Escogido in the Dominican League (LIDOM), after completing the 50 plate appearances he was initially assigned by the Bombers.

In a strong pitching league (the average league OPS is around .640), Hicks held his own considering that he hadn’t played competitive baseball since injuring his wrist in May. Overall, he was third in the team among players with at least 40 plate appearances with a .729 OPS.

The Yankees’ outfielder hit one home run and slashed .265/.321/.408, with nine RBI, four doubles, and five runs scored. He took four walks and struck out 10 times. He also stole two bases.

More than the stats themselves, the most important takeaway for the Yankees is that Hicks made it through his winter experience healthy and in one piece. The 2022 campaign is a big one for him, as he will try to prove that he can still be the Bombers’ starting center fielder. New York may or may not bring a capable outfielder to compete with him this offseason when the lockout ends.

The Yankees need him to find his 2018 form

Hicks peaked in 2018, when he slashed .248/.366/.467 with 27 home runs, 90 runs scored, 79 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. That year, he had a very solid 129 wRC+ and 5.0 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.

He was limited to 59 games with the Yankees in 2019 because he needed Tommy John surgery, and his offensive performance collapsed all the way to a 103 wRC+. He returned to a 124 wRC+ in 2020, but his power was affected: he had a .189 ISO, his lowest mark since 2017.

He slumped badly in 32 games this year, with a .194/.294/.333 line and a 76 wRC+, and then injured his wrist: he suffered a torn left tendon sheath, forcing him to get surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

The Yankees wanted to see where he was at after missing such a high amount of games, and that’s why they sent him to the Dominican Republic, the most competitive Caribbean league. But he will need to have a strong spring training to dissipate any doubts about his future with the team.

New York Yankees Top 10’s: Worst acquisitions, is Aaron Hicks on the list?

In the 2021 season, the New York Yankees looked to improve their team. They re-signed DJ LeMahieu and brought back Brett Gardner for yet another year. They also hired 2-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and traded for Jameson Taillon to revamp the pitching rotation. They also made several minor league deals to accomplish their goals. None of the changes fared well. Corey Kluber and Aaron Hicks were out most of the year that saw the Yankees reach the Wild Card game, only to lose it to the Red Sox.

Now, as we approach the 2022 season, the Yankees were mostly inactive in the first part of the postseason. In the lockout, all is at a standstill, but when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be reached, the Yankees will have to act quickly to improve the team.

The Yankees, in their glorious history, have had some of the greatest players to play the game of baseball. Players like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, etc. Some were farm-raised, and some were acquired.

For some franchises, paying too much for a player that doesn’t work out can be financially devastating. And it can take a club a long time to recover from that purchase. For teams more flush-like, notably the New York Yankees, those poor choices usually can be recovered from in a short time.

In other cases, a club gives up a prime prospect in a trade to get that player while significantly weakening their farm system when that player turns out to be a bomb.

When acquiring a player, the New York Yankees either have to spend money or trade players or a combination of both to get the player they want. Some have been amazingly successful, like Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, El Duque, Roger Clemens, Roger Maris, Ricky Henderson, and many more.  But they also have had some bummers. Today we examine my picks for the Yankee’s worst acquisitions. I based my picks on how the Yankees performed and how much they had to pay to get the performance or lack thereof.  Picks are only from the modern era.

The Last time I wrote this article, Aaron Hicks wasn’t even on the list. But with all the injuries, poor play, and playing in only 32 games last season, he has pushed himself up to number 5 on this list. Also considered is that the Yankees gave him a seven-year extension for $70 million.

10. A. J. Burnett

When A. J. Burnett came to the Yankees in 2009 from the Toronto Blue Jays, where he had an 18 win season.  The Yankee contract with Burnett was for $85.5 million over five years. Burnett was one of those players like Kenny Rogers and, more recently, Sonny Gray that couldn’t adjust to the bright lights of New York Yankee Stadium.  In his three years before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was 34-35 with an ERA of 4.79.

9. Pedro Feliciano

Pedro Feliciano was a two-year $8 million disaster with the Yankees. There is little to say here.  He required two shoulder surgeries after leading the AL with the most starts in the previous three years.  For the Yankees, he never pitched a game—end of the story.

8. Spike Owen

Owen was coming off a career year with the Expos, where he won a gold glove, hit .269, and racked up 24 extra-base hits.  He went to the Yankees from the Expos and was so bad at short that he didn’t even complete a year with the Yankees.  In 1993 the Yankees were in dire need of a shortstop with prospect Derek Jeter not yet ready.  So they paid $7 million for a three-year contract.  He hit .234 with a stinking .300 OBP.  The Yankees dealt him to the Angels to play out the contract.

7. Ed Whitson

If you thought Pavano and Igawa and were bad, Ed Whitson was worse.  The New York Yankees acquired Whitson in a five-year deal for $4.5 million from the Padres. For most of his career, he was a near ace pitcher but not for the Yankees.  What followed? Fifteen wins and a 5.38 earned run average over two years with the team. They dealt him back to the Padres in 1986, where they’d fork 90% of his contract the remainder of the deal. The only reason his isn’t higher on this list is that the Yankees didn’t lose many dollars.

6. Hideki Irabu

The big problem with the Irabu acquisition is that he was supposed to be the next great Yankee ace pitcher. He never even came close to being anything more than a 4th or 5th pitcher in the rotation. In his four years, starting in 1997, he went 29-20, 4.80 ERA, 64 starts, 74 games, 395 2/3 IP. For this, the Yankees had to pay the San Diego Padres $3 million to acquire him and give Irabu $12.8 million over four years.

5. Aaron Hicks

In 2019, general manager Brian Cashman gave Aaron Hicks a seven-year $70 million contract extension. It was a puzzle why he did it then and remains a puzzle. From 2016 to 2019, Hicks was an average fielder and only slightly above average at the plate. But from 2019 to date, he has been mostly a disaster, spending almost as much time off the field as on. Since the extension, he has played in only 145 games with a .223, 22 HR, 71 RBI, .748 OPS slash line. This past year alone, he hit just  .194 with four homers while driving in only 14 runs, playing in only 32 games due to back soreness and season-ending wrist surgery.

4. Kei Igawa

Wow-what a mistake this was.  Kei Igawa was a miserable pitcher.  The Yankees signed him to a five-year $20 million contract and paid a $26 million Japanese posting fee to get him in the first place.  In 2006 Igawa started for the Yankees at the major league level.  He was 2-4, 6.66 ERA, 13 starts, 16 games, and 71 2/3 innings for his first two years.  He was then demoted to Scranton Wilkes/Barre for two years and the third year with AA Trenton. While in the minors, Brian Cashman tried several times to send Igawa back to Japan, but Igawa refused to go.

3. Jason Giambi

Some may wonder why I have Giambi so high on this worst deal list. It’s not because he wasn’t a decent player because the Yankees paid far too much for a declining player.  There is no question that he was a star player for the Oakland Athletics.  His 40 points lower batting average with the Yankees did not deserve his $120 million seven-year contract.

While with the Yankees, the first baseman never was a Gold Glover, Silver Slugger, while only being an All-Star once and being nominated for MVP twice, in which he received few votes.  In 2004 due to injuries, he missed half the season.  Giambi was often a liability at first, leading him to play a lot of games as DH.  Oh, and then there was the whole doping thing.  After initially denying doing drugs, he admitted to injecting himself with human growth hormone during the 2003 season with the Yankees.

2. Carl Pavano

Carl Pavano is a pitcher that many Yankee fans don’t remember, as he was seldom on the mound during his four years $40 million deal. Pavano was a pretty average pitcher for the Florida Marlins until 2004; he had an 18-8 year, came in 6th in the Cy Young voting, and was an All-Star.  Based on this, the Yankees decided to take a chance on this break-out pitcher during the offseason. In his first year with the Yankees, he pitched in only 17 games for a 4-6 record and an ERA of 4.77.

His lackluster performance in 2005 was just the beginning things were about to get worse, much worse.  In 2006 he didn’t pitch at all due to injuries.  In his last two years with the Yankees, he pitched in only nine games between injuries.  His record was a dismal 5-2 with an ERA of 5.15. The Yankees were happy to be rid of him.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury

Without a doubt, in recent memory or Yankee history, the acquisition of Jacoby Ellsbury from the Boston Red Sox was the worst ever buy.  And that’s not only in how he performed. It’s what they had to pay for him to be away from the team the majority of his Yankee contract.  General Manager Brain Cashman is undoubtedly one of the savviest traders and purchasers in the business. But in this case, he missed the mark by a mile, not only in the original contract but how this player turned out.

Ellsbury was a good player for the Red Sox, but his best years were early in his center field career.  In 2011 he hit .321 with 32 home runs, and the guy could steal bases.  But he would never hit those figures again.  On December 3, 2013, Ellsbury and the New York Yankees agreed in principle to a seven-year, $153 million deal, including an option for an eighth year that could increase the contract’s value to $169 million. Mistake number one was that he was never worth this gargantuan contract, to begin with.

Ellsbury never enjoyed the fan praise that Red Sox acquisition Jonny Damon received, primarily due to his performance, which never reached the level that the money spent demanded.  In his Yankee employment, in the first four years, he only managed less than 10 home runs a year while hitting a league batting average of .264. That’s when a deplorable trade turned into a disaster.  In 2018 and 2019, Ellsbury never set foot on the field due to continued injuries, which led many Yankee fans to think he was faking it and just wanted to collect the money and not play.

At the 2021 season, Jacoby Ellsbury was finally off the payroll. Many wonder in the future if Giancarlo Stanton will be on this list. He has never been the player he was in his 2017 season with the Marlins, he is often injured, and his huge contract limits what the Yankees can do with new acquisitions. But, if his 2021 season is any indication of what he can become for the Yankees, he may go from consideration of worst to best acquisitions.

Dishonorable mentions go to Jose Contreras: 4-Years, $32 Million, paid too much for his 1 1/2 years, Kenny Rogers 4-Years, $20 million, ERA 5.12, Pascual Perez: 3-Years, $5.7 Million, drugs only won 3 games, Mel Hall: 4-Years, $4 Million, he kept the Yankees from the 1991 postseason due to his constant arguments with Don Mattingly, and finally Jaret Wright: 3-Years, $21-Million, when he became a Yankee his body fell apart.

Most of the New York Yankee bomb acquisitions have been pitchers strangely, but luckily for the Yankees, they have had far more successful acquisitions, and being a rich franchise has been able to handle those that weren’t.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.  Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.