Long-time Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks entered 2023 in desperate need of a fresh start and frustrated with his current role.
New York's braintrust finally granted his wish after a month and a half of stalling, DFAing Hicks and eating nearly $30 million in the process last weekend.
After clearing waivers, Hicks has landed somewhere that feels like a better fit, at least in the immediate future. The 33-year-old will play for the Baltimore Orioles, who owe him just the league minimum while he fills in for starting center fielder Cedric Mullins, felled by a groin strain.
This might end up being just a small cameo, Gary Sánchez-style, and if he struggles, Hicks will be gone when Mullins returns, with so many talented outfield prospects lurking in the Orioles' pipeline. Still, Hicks is already dressing for the part.
When he showed up at Camden Yards to work out with his new teammates Tuesday, he was already sporting a fairly substantial beard. Substantial enough that it might've begun ... say,10 days prior in Cincinnati?
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks sports facial hair with Orioles
Wow. Looks completely different.
Hicks' best stretch of the season came immediately before the Yankees let him loose. It's tough to say whether Brian Cashman hoped that a mild hot streak would trick someone into picking up the remaining 2.5 years of his contract, but the outfielder was riding a .353 average, .450 OBP and .647 SLG in his past seven games. It's not nothing, though it'll be hard to maintain the hot streak with a two-week layoff between appearances.
No matter what happens in Baltimore, Hicks was never the same in New York after tearing his wrist sheath early in the 2021 season, an injury that routinely saps power as players age. He may be able to stay patient with the Orioles as his plate appearances increase, but it's unlikely his power/speed combination ever returns.
Hope springs eternal for Hicks himself, though, who will enjoy this role a lot more than riding the pine and being booed in the Bronx. When the Orioles show up to Yankee Stadium in July, hopefully he's still there, rocking a devilish little villain goatee.