The Yankees announced Wednesday afternoon that center fielder Aaron Hicks will undergo Tommy John surgery on October 30th. The recovery time for Hicks is 8 to 10 months which means he will likely miss a large chunk of next season.
This now marks the second year in a row that the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have revealed that one of their players will undergo Tommy John surgery at their end of the year press conference. Last season it was Didi Gregorius who needed surgery and he didn’t return to the lineup until June 7th. I think we can expect a similar timetable for Hicks’ return in 2020 if all goes well with his rehab.
The 2019 season was another injury-plagued one for Hicks who signed a seven-year, $70M extension with the Yankees last February. In 59 games he hit .235 with 12 HR and 36 RBI so the early returns on that investment aren’t looking very good.
Even though he returned to Yankees for the ALCS after missing the previous two months I don’t think anyone is shocked that he’s going to need surgery to repair the partial tear his UCL. He did everything he could to get back on the field for the playoffs and had some outstanding at-bats against the Astros but eventually, his elbow was going to give out if he kept playing through it.
According to Cashman once the season ended Hicks could feel that something in his elbow still wasn’t right and then doctors confirmed that surgery was the best way to go to get it fixed. It’s better to get the surgery out of the way now so he can return at some point next season and still make a big impact.
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Now that we know Hicks is going to miss at least the first two to three months of next season this has to increase the odds of Brett Gardner returning to the Yankees. We know he wants to return and the Yankees I’m sure would love to have him back so I expect both sides to agree to a deal pretty quickly once the free agency period begins.
This season Gardy got the most reps in centerfield when Hicks missed time due to injury and posted a career-year offensively hitting .251 with 28 HR and 74 RBI. He’ll likely compete with Mike Tauchman for the starting job in center if he’s back but whether he wins it or not there’s no doubt he’d still have a big role to play in 2020.
Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee on the roster and now that CC Sabathia is retired it’s even more vital that they bring him back just for his leadership in the clubhouse alone.
It will be interesting to see if this also leads to Cameron Maybin being re-signed after the terrific campaign he had in 2019. It’s certainly a possibility although he isn’t really a center fielder anymore so the Yanks could look to sign another right-handed bat instead who is capable of playing the position at a high level defensively.