3 ways Yankees can decrease Aaron Hicks’ playing time

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 21: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees looks on against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 21, 2021 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 21: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees looks on against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 21, 2021 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

1. Midseason Trade (Even for a Non-Center Fielder)

There may come a day when the 2022 Yankees (gulps) need some more outfield depth to cover for baked-in days off for Stanton, Judge and Gallo, and they might not trust Florial, Tim Locastro or Marwin Gonzalez to cover all of it.

In the instance that the Big Boy Outfield needs to be tabled during a growth spurt, the Yankees could still deemphasize Hicks by going outside the organization for an additional outfielder — yes, even someone who doesn’t play center.

Andrew Benintendi of the Royals seems like the most likely “star” outfielder to be traded, and he’s in the midst of a successful contact-based season. A free agent at the end of 2022, Benintendi has posted a 133 OPS+ through 118 at-bats, worth 0.7 WAR with his .314 batting average and .371 OBP. The hard-hit metrics aren’t where the Yankees typically want them to be, but a potential All-Star as a depth flyer for two months wouldn’t be a terrible proposition.

Then there’s Ian Happ, who plays mostly left these days, too, in Chicago, but has dabbled in center field in the past. Always a favorite of Yankee bloggers for the easy-to-draw connection, Happ gets on base (.405 OBP) and slugs, though his hard-hit percentage (56th percentile) and various metrics are a bit middling this year, too.

Want a pure center fielder? Ramon Laureano and his spectacular defense are back in action in Oakland, though he’s carried a putrid bat in limited opportunities this year (.162 average).

Of course … there’s also Gardy.