The Yankees announced today that they’ve placed Aaron Hicks on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique muscle. In his place, they’ve activated Jacoby Ellsbury from the 7-day concussion disabled list. Additionally, the Yanks optioned lefty Tyler Webb and outfielder Mason Williams to Triple-A and recalled infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder and righty Ronald Herrera.
Hicks told reporters last night that he’s been informed that he’ll need three to four weeks to recover from the injury — a tough blow to both player and team, as the 27-year-old Hicks is in the midst of a sensational breakout season. Acquired in the 2015-16 offseason in a trade that sent John Ryan Murphy to the Twins, Hicks had a dreadful first season in New York but has exploded in 2017. Through 242 plate appearances, the former first-round pick and top prospect is hitting .290/.398/.515 with 10 homers, seven steals and outstanding defense (primarily in center field).
It’ll be a tall order for the 33-year-old Ellsbury to make up for that type of production, though Ellsbury himself was in the midst of a very nice start to the year when he initially sustained the concussion (jumping into the center field fence to make an impressive catch). Through 153 PAs, Ellsbury has slashed .281/.349/.422, adding in four homers and eight stolen bases. Defensive metrics feel that he’s lost a step from his peak, though Defensive Runs Saved did grade Ellsbury at +2 through his first 288 innings in center this year.
With Hicks on the shelf now instead of Ellsbury, the Yankees will run with a primary outfield alignment consisting of Brett Gardner in left field, Ellsbury in center and Aaron Judge in right field. Between Gardner’s surprising career-best numbers at the plate in 2017 and Judge’s emergence as not only the runaway Rookie of the Year favorite but a legitimate AL MVP candidate, the Yankees should have a plenty productive outfield mix even without Hicks for the next month or so.