It's a damn shame that Aaron Hicks' Yankees career has reached this point, after the indelible highlights he provided from 2017-2019, but ... it has. It's here. It's close to the point of no return, and Hicks has shown little desire to be the player he used to be, aside from some pointed remarks based on the assumption that his talent and effort never left.
After being left out of the starting lineup for the first three games of the Yankees' regular season, Hicks expressed some frustration to management, according to Aaron Boone's press conference prior to Monday's game. Boone responded by relenting and starting Hicks against the Phillies, but that's neither here nor there.
The 33-year-old Hicks has three years left on his Yankees extension at $10M a piece, and while booing him during Opening Day intros still feels uncouth, he has done plenty in recent years to justify fan dissatisfaction. It's hard to rebut accusations that he's "dogging it" when the most lasting image of his 2022 season wasn't the clutch, three-run home run he hit against Houston, but rather the time he got bonked by a fair ball and opted not to chase it.
If the Yankees' marriage with Hicks is over -- yes, with a sunken cost attached -- these three teams could help them move on. Don't expect much in return other than a lottery ticket prospect or a salary match, though, unless the Yankees eat the entirety of his remaining contract (they won't).
3 trade destinations for Yankees OF Aaron Hicks
Aaron Hicks Trade Destination: Cincinnati Reds
A step down? Of course! But if Hicks is so desperate to start, or at least join a team where there's more clarity about what he's there to do, the Cincinnati Reds feel like a perfect fit -- as long as the Yankees agree to pay 80% of his salary.
Right now, Cincinnati's outfield depth chart looks like a bench that was recently magically transformed into three starters; if Hicks doesn't have the juice to beat out Jake Fraley, Stuart Fairchild, and TJ Friedl for reps, than he will not be a starter on any team in the league for the remainder of his career.
(And, we just said the quiet part out loud: there's a good chance he isn't a full-time starter anywhere)
Still, if the Yankees pay almost all of Hicks' money, maybe they can convince the Reds to surrender Rookie Ball shortstop (and MLB Pipeline's No. 25 prospect in Cincinnati's farm) Leonardo Balcazar. Come on, cheapo Reds ownership. You've already got Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte and Matt McLain. Throw the Yankees a lottery ticket bone here.