Aaron Hicks has three years and about $30 million remaining on his contract that general manager Brian Cashman should’ve never offered him. It’s honestly not even a knock on Hicks. It was just objectively out of this world that Cashman broke the New York Yankees’ “policy” of waiting until free agency for someone like Hicks, who’s been injury prone since his pro career began.
It’ll remain one of the Yankees’ biggest mysteries, but Tommy John surgery in 2019, an underwhelming shortened 2020, wrist surgery in 2021, and one of the worst full seasons in all of baseball in 2022, and this might be the end of the road for Hicks in the Bronx.
His comments this week all but alluded to that, but will the Yankees actually pull the trigger? Had they already begun to do so after manager Aaron Boone pulled him from the Sept. 9 game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium after his two defensive miscues?
Hicks has been relegated to only playing in road games since then, and he actually hasn’t been bad! But for some reason he spoke to the New York Post and revealed he wasn’t thrilled with his playing time (the second-most at-bats of his career, by the way) and pondered about his future with the team.
Well, Step 1 of the Alienation Process has been completed. The fans literally booed him off the field a couple of weeks ago. Step 2? Being “under the weather” right after Harrison Bader was activated on Tuesday and logged three RBI in his Yankees debut, which was a win over the Pirates. Not only that, but Hicks “left the clubhouse in street clothes” on Wednesday. Sounds a bit ominous!
Are the Yankees going to pull a Jacoby Ellsbury with Aaron Hicks in 2022?
As a result, fans can’t help but think if there will be some sort of exiling with Hicks like there was with Jacoby Ellsbury back in 2019. Ellsbury, arguably one of the most hated Yankees of all time, was released in November of 2019 and had his 2020 salary withheld due to a situation where he allegedly received unauthorized rehab/treatment for an injury outside of the organization. This came after Ellsbury has his 2018 campaign delayed to an oblique issue, then derailed by a hip injury that required surgery. He didn’t play at all that year, and logged a total of 520 games in pinstripes despite signing a seven-year contract.
The two sides eventually reached a “settlement,” and it’s been reported Ellsbury didn’t receive the full $26 million he was owed (which, honestly, might’ve been because 2020 saw players only earn about 1/3 of their salaries). He was due $21 million that year plus a $5 million buyout for 2021. God, imagine if he was on last year’s nightmare team!
The Yankees obviously have no grounds to withhold money from Hicks, but maybe they eat the $30 million and make him slowly go away? As sad as it sounds, fans wouldn’t even notice or care. Some of the worst kind might even celebrate There’s been so much “what if” with Hicks for so long that it’s exhausting to even hold out an ounce of hope any longer. And his body language on the field and comments off of it have brought everything to a head.
He’s untradeable, and has been for a while because of the money attached to him. One could argue he made it worse by further leaning into the toxic situation this season, alluding to Joey Gallo’s “success” with the Dodgers because of the way manager Dave Roberts has utilized him (Gallo is still bad and Roberts’ “utilization” has been deploying the slugger on a part-time basis in a lineup that mashes every night so nobody notices how bad he truly is).
What we do know is that this isn’t working out for anybody. Hicks cannot be on the postseason roster, and there might not even be room for him with Bader now in the picture. More importantly, the Yankees clubhouse can’t have lethargic/toxic energy dragging it down when every last inning matters.
Who knows? Maybe Hicks will sneeze while he’s “under the weather,” pull a muscle, and seek medical help outside the organization. Then the Yankees can do their best Sopranos impression by making everything “go away” with very few noticing what actually happened.