5 Yankees players who don't deserve to be on 2023 40-man roster

Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Two
Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Two / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
5 of 5

Aaron Hicks, OF

Brian Cashman doesn't like to deliver his players contract extensions before he needs to, and it remains extremely ironic that the two times he's tried it in recent years, he paid Luis Severino immediately before a series of catastrophic injuries, and he paid Aaron Hicks before a similar bout of issues (with a natural dip in production mixed in).

Hicks' 2018 season (27 bombs, 79 RBI, 127 OPS+, 22nd in the MVP vote, cannon arm) was good enough to earn him a seven-year, $70 million extension that runs through 2025. There's a club option for 2026, too, but we'd bet against that being exercised.

At the time, the justification involved Hicks' ascendent production, combined with the idea that there wouldn't be any legitimate center field replacements hitting the market in the years to come. Counterpoint ... literally Bryce Harper? But we digress.

The troubles began the very next season when Hicks tore his UCL midseason and eventually needed offseason Tommy John. He was still a hero to many at that point, though, socking a three-run dinger off Justin Verlander with an injured elbow that shook the bleachers during ALCS Game 5.

Since then, though, Hicks has run aground, performing well enough in 2020 (.225 average, but a .379 OBP and 122 OPS+ in a wonky year) before falling off a cliff in early 2021 and tearing his wrist sheath.

He's never been the same, posting two consecutive brutal offensive seasons (73, 86 OPS+) with a whole lot of swing-and-miss baked in. He's also mixed in his fair share of brain farts, drawing the ire of the Yankee Stadium crowd when a Rays line drive doinked off his glove and he watched it doink during a crucial September game, failing to realize it was a fair ball and runs were scoring.

Hicks enters 2023 as something well below a $10 million player, and he's also coming off a leg injury that ended his postseason prematurely. There's a slight chance that Hicks' patience still makes him valuable this season. That chance is not worth taking.

$10 million isn't $25 million, either. It's surprising the Yankees haven't found a biter if they're willing to absorb 50% of his money. That said, they haven't been able to find a left field alternative, either, so Hicks likely stays. He'd better chase greatness more ferociously than he chased the ball in the corner last fall.