Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks will undergo surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, manager Aaron Boone announced to reporters Friday (Twitter link via Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record). There’s no exact timeline for his recovery, but Boone indicates that it’ll be a “months-long” process, which puts the remainder of the season in question for Hicks.
It’s yet another setback for the talented-but-oft-injured Hicks, who hasn’t looked right at the plate all season. Hicks batted just .194/.294/.333 before the discomfort in his wrist became too great and he went on the injured list last week. He underwent an MRI to determine the source of the pain, which led to the diagnosis of the tear. Given that he’s likely been playing through the issue for some time, the poor showing at the plate isn’t surprising.
Hicks appeared in 54 of the Yankees’ 60 games last summer, batting .225/.379/.414 with six homers, 10 doubles and a pair of triples. He tacked on a .308/.424/.423 showing in the team’s seven postseason games. From 2017-19, the switch-hitting Hicks gave the Yankees a .247/.362/.452 performance, but he tallied just over 1400 plate appearances during that time due to various injuries.
Hicks missed time with a hamstring strain in 2016, a pair of oblique strains in 2017 (one on his right side, one on his left) and an intercostal strain in 2018. He had a brief IL stint for back troubles in 2019 before a flexor strain put an end to his season. It was eventually revealed that Hicks would require Tommy John surgery to address the issue.
The mounting durability concerns are particularly problematic, given that in 2019, Hicks signed a seven-year, $70MM extension that runs through the 2025 campaign. He’d have been a free agent at season’s end were it not for that deal, but the Yankees are now on the hook for a $10.5MM salary from 2021-23, a $9.5MM salary in 2024-25 and a $1MM buyout on an option for the 2026 season.
Hicks’ prolonged absence now puts the struggling Brett Gardner in line to serve as the everyday center fielder. The Yankees traded Mike Tauchman to the Giants in exchange for reliever Wandy Peralta last month, and neither Aaron Judge nor Clint Frazier can be expected to handle center field on a regular basis. The Yankees have former top prospect Estevan Florial on the 40-man roster and in Triple-A, but he’s only just now getting his first experience above A-ball. It’s certainly possible they’ll still give him a look before long, but they could also be on the lookout for some outfield options outside the organization.