Yankees: 3 center fielders who could replace Aaron Hicks this offseason
1. Byron Buxton
Now we’re talking.
Though the Yankees and Mariners are more typical trade partners, Byron Buxton is the most Brian Cashman acquisition possible this offseason — and not just because his name kind of sounds like a Google Translate mishap of Brian Cashman. Brian to Byron? Cashman to “Bucks” ton? It kind of works, and now you’re angry about how well it kind of works.
Checkered injury history? Check. Checkered is an understatement. Limitless ability? Also check; in just 61 games in 2021, Buxton racked up 4.5 WAR, hit 19 bombs, and posted a 171 OPS+. He came into his own time and again last season, but was repeatedly derailed, as he often is, by injuries — both freakish and not so freakish.
Buxton replacing Hicks, the last top Twins outfield prospect with question marks who the Yankees acquired based on his unfulfilled potential? Very hilarious, in fact.
Now, the injury concerns with Buxton are extremely real. Buxton’s injury problems have run the gamut, and might result in the average fan completely balking at the cost, which’ll be somewhat prohibitively high. He’ll clean out the farm system in the way some believe Joey Gallo did last offseason — Oswald Peraza, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil and a fourth or fifth name will be included. All in all, from concussion issues to a torn labrum to a never-ending toe fracture, he’s experienced it all. Dealing from a moderately-strong farm system and banking your future on a 27-year-old Buxton is the riskiest move listed here.
But — BUT — he’s a defensive and offensive up-the-middle superstar the likes of which the Yankees haven’t seen since Bernie Williams. You’d be playing with fire, but the risk might be worth the reward … even though he’d be placed in the care of the Yankees’ team doctors.