Yankees GM Brian Cashman provided injury updates on several key players today, according to a tweet from Marc Carig of The Athletic (link). Starter Masahiro Tanaka had a procedure to remove spurs from his right elbow, and slugger Luke Voit had a procedure done to address an injury in his core. However, the most notable revelation is that outfielder Aaron Hicks will ultimately opt for Tommy John surgery to address the flexor strain in his right arm. That surgery will likely place him on an eight-to-ten month recovery timeline.
Needless to say, the last eight months have been something of a worst-case scenario in regard to the seven-year, $70MM extension Hicks signed with the club back in February. Coming on the heels of three mostly excellent years to start Hicks’ Yankees career, the extension appeared to lock in a defensively capable center fielder and top prospect finally rounding into offensive form. With Hicks sidelined for the majority of the upcoming 2020 season, the pact is now likely to be placed under the microscope by New York-area observers.
It’s fair to wonder how Cashman might proceed in attending to Hicks’ absence. Does this increase the chances of Brett Gardner resigning in New York? Gardner filled in capably in center for much of the 2019 season, logging acceptable UZR (3.1) and DRS (-2) metrics at the position. Mike Tauchman also shouldered a portion of the load in covering for Hicks this past season, but it’s uncertain if he would be counted on as a full-time option there for 2020.
In an injury-limited season that did see him manage a return for the Yankees ALCS appearance, Hicks logged a .235/.325/.443 batting line (102 wRC+) in 255 plate appearances. The outfielder will account for a base salary of $10.5MM in 2020.