1. Aaron Hicks
Good for Aaron Hicks for securing the bag, but we’ll forever be asking Brian Cashman the simple question of “Why?”.
Before the 2019 season, the veteran outfielder was given a seven-year, $70 million extension and then proceeded to play in just 145 of a possible 384 games. But that’s nothing new. He’s battled injury issues throughout his career, dating back to his MLB debut in 2013.
Nonetheless, he was rewarded swiftly after a career year. Not to mention, Hicks was one of the few players the Yankees broke their “policy” for when they negotiated with him before he was even a free agent. How did one year of playing in a career-high 137 games and soaring past his career highs in runs scored, homers, RBI and walks convince Cashman this was a prudent investment for his age-30-35 seasons? We don’t know.
What we do know, however, is that when Hicks is hitting effectively from both sides of the plate, working walks like a beast, ripping liners over the short porch, and covering adequate ground in center, the Yankees are that much better.
Just look at last year when the Yankees were dying for left-handed at-bats and relied on Hicks to deliver toward the top of the lineup. He hit .194 with a .627 OPS and the offense cratered. Then it was Brett Gardner’s turn to bat in the three-hole. Please, no more of this.
Hicks will (hopefully) be at full strength when the 2022 campaign opens, and all the Yankees need him to do is hit ~.230 with a ~.340 on-base percentage and ~18 homers. It’ll make all the difference. And you’ll know it when you see it.