The Backup Plan: Aaron Hicks
The Yankees front office stuck with outfielder Aaron Hicks in 2016 long after the majority of their fan base had written him off as a bust. They were rewarded for their patience with a strong final two months of the season where Hicks hit .271/.333/.424 with five home runs in 129 plate appearances to finish the year.
Even with his decent end to 2016, Hicks’s overall numbers are pretty ugly. He finished with a .217/.281/.336 (65 OPS+) slash line in 361 plate appearances, seeing a lot more action than your typical fourth outfielder even before the team dealt Carlos Beltran. His often excellent work in the field helps his case a little, but the final package was still sub-replacement level (-0.3 rWAR) according to Baseball-Reference.
If Judge racks up a ton of strikeouts next spring, it seems likely that Hicks would be next in line to take the job, at least in the short term. Cashman has made it clear he’s a big fan of the former first rounders tools, at one point comparing him to Red Sox breakout star Jackie Bradley Jr. last summer.
At 27, Hicks is no longer a kid. 2017 will probably be his last chance, at least in New York, to prove he’s anything more than a bench guy. If he can put up even league average numbers at the plate, as he did in the last two months of the season, he’d make a useful stop gap in right because of his plus glove work and cannon arm.