3 Yankees position battles that could result in trades before 2022 season

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees and teammate Luke Voit #59 celebrate after Voit hit a one run home run during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on September 07, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team and are playing their home games in Buffalo due to the Canadian government’s policy on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees and teammate Luke Voit #59 celebrate after Voit hit a one run home run during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on September 07, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team and are playing their home games in Buffalo due to the Canadian government’s policy on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Let’s talk trades during a time when the New York Yankees can’t make any. Sounds like a thrill, right? The MLB lockout is awesome.

Anyway, whenever the owners and players are able to come to an agreement, spring training, one could assume, would start promptly in an effort to get the regular season rolling as soon as possible so more games aren’t lost.

Once upon a time, we (stupidly) believed the expiring collective bargaining agreement wouldn’t affect spring training or the start of the regular season … especially because fans were looking forward to the Yankees and how’d they’d revamp the roster ahead of a very, very crucial 2022 season.

Instead, the Yankees have countless holes unable to be filled by major league additions and it won’t be easy for general manager Brian Cashman to effectively address all of them when there’s a mad dash to free agency and the trade market.

To make matters worse, the Yankees need to trade a few of their own guys … unless they want to keep potential disgruntled players on the roster, play others out of position, or limit reps for those making a substantial amount of money/who are untradeable at the moment.

Specifically, a few position battles will take play once teams return to organized activities, and here are a few that could result in trades before Opening Day.

Yankees position battles that could force trades before 2022 Opening Day

3. Aaron Hicks vs Ender Inciarte

Ah, yes, the eternal trade discussion surrounding Aaron Hicks. One that is unlikely given the money he is owed and the little he’s shown on the field in three years. But, under this Yankees’ regime, it’s hard to rule out any sort of salary dump deal, even if it means New York has to eat some of the money.

There’s a reason they signed Ender Inciarte to a minor-league contract earlier in the offseason. The former Gold Glove defender fell out of favor in Atlanta due to injuries and declining play … but he’s still only 31 years old (a full year younger than Hicks!). He can certainly cover more ground in center and offers a better contact bat, as well as effective speed on the bases.

That, of course, is assuming he returns to form. But same goes for Hicks, who’s last put up numbers indicative of his potential in 2018. An eerily similar timeline as Inciarte, whose decline began after that season too.

A trade could actually go either way here, too. The top scenario is Inciarte out-performing Hicks, the Yankees eating a small percentage of his contract in a trade, and using the leftover money to maybe add pitching. The other possibilities? Both guys perform well and the Yanks can take their pick. What’s better: getting value for a resurgent Inciarte since he’s on a minor-league deal or getting rid of as much as Hicks’ money as possible?