After struggling at the plate in his first few major league seasons, Aaron Hicks seemed to break out in 2017. The switch-hitting outfielder went to the injured list a few times due to oblique issues and only got into 88 games, but he hit 15 home runs and stole 10 bases. He also drew walks in 14.1% of his plate appearances, well beyond that year’s 8.5% league average. His .266/.372/.475 batting line led to a 128 wRC+, indicating he was 28% better than the league average hitter. His defense was also graded well, allowing him to produce 2.7 wins above replacement per the calculations of FanGraphs, despite playing barely half a season.
The next year, he stayed healthy enough to get into 137 games and largely repeated his results over a larger sample. He launched 27 homers, swiped 11 bags and walked in 15.5% of his trips to the plate. His .248/.366/.467 batting line led to a 129 wRC+ and 4.3 fWAR. The Yankees felt they had a well-rounded player that was worth locking up, agreeing to give Hicks a seven-year, $70MM extension with a club option for 2026.
Things have been up-and-down for Hicks in the four seasons since that extension was signed, however. In 2019, he made multiple trips to the injured list and only got into 59 games. When healthy enough to play, his offensive output was diminished though still above average, as he finished the season with a 103 wRC+. He bounced right back in the shortened 2020 campaign, getting into 54 of the club’s 60 games. He only hit six home runs but he walked in 19.4% of his plate appearances, producing a slash line of .225/.379/.414 and a 124 wRC+. 2021 was another low point, however, as a wrist injury limited him to 32 games of poor production before surgery in May that he wasn’t able to return from.
2022 was the first time Hicks was healthy over a full season since that excellent 2018 campaign, though he wasn’t able to properly return to form, hitting just eight home runs in 130 games. He still walked at a healthy 13.7% clip and stole 10 bases, but his overall production was down. His .216/.330/.313 line amounted to a wRC+ of 90. He also lost the center field job, as the Yanks frequently ran Aaron Judge out there instead and acquired Harrison Bader at the trade deadline even though Bader was injured at the time and wouldn’t be able to take the spot until mid-September. Hicks’ work in left field was graded well which, along with his speed, still allowed him to tally 1.5 fWAR on the year. That’s not disastrous but it was a far cry from his previous form.
There are still three guaranteed years remaining on that extension, and the Yanks have reportedly been fielding trade offers on Hicks this offseason without finding a deal to their liking. With Bader and Judge set to be in center and right, the club was open to finding external additions in left but didn’t end up doing so. That leaves Hicks battling for the job next to younger players like Estevan Florial and Oswaldo Cabrera.
So, what can be expected out of Hicks in 2023? Was 2022 some kind of outlier or just a reasonable expectation of the kind of player Hicks is now? If one wanted to be optimistic and charitable, they could point to the fact that Hicks was coming off three stunted seasons, wrist surgery and then a lockout-interrupted offseason where he was not able to communicate with team staff. His power was diminished but he still got on base and was able to contribute in other ways. Hicks told Dan Martin of The New York Post in September that he tried to come back from wrist surgery lean and athletic to stay healthy but that it backfired by sapping his power. “I wanted to get faster and healthy, but me playing at 200 pounds isn’t it,’’ Hicks said. “I haven’t been impacting the ball like I wanted to. It’s really showed, with my power down. I wanted to be quicker and it didn’t work out that way.” He told Martin that he was looking forward to adding more strength in the offseason and coming into 2023 with the power restored.
The more pessimistic view is that Hicks hasn’t been both good and healthy over an extended period of time since 2018. It’s not his fault there was a pandemic-shortened campaign in there and that he happened to be injured on either side of it, but the fact of the matter is that he’s now 33 and natural age-based regression is working against him. Statcast has some mixed opinions on his 2022 results. His hard hit rate was only in the 14th percentile and his barrel rate just 29th. His average exit velocity was in the 31st percentile, though he did get to the 57th for maximum exit velo, suggesting there’s still some power in there but he wasn’t tapping into it often enough. It’s possible that his plan to bulk up in the offseason and get his strength back could lead to him hitting the ball with more authority in 2023, but there’s no real guarantee that will work.
Regardless of whether that plan comes to fruition, Hicks should still be valuable in some way. As mentioned, even with his down year in 2022, he produced 1.5 fWAR thanks to his speed, defense and ability to draw walks. It’s possible that speed plays up a bit with the new rule changes that will encourage base stealing going forward. He could also get a boost from the ban on extreme defensive alignments as he was shifted in 92.6% of his plate appearances as a lefty and just 6.5% as a righty. He has mild platoon splits for his career, producing a 103 wRC+ as a righty and a 96 as a lefty, with the new rules perhaps leading to more balanced results there.
The major unknown will be that power and if it can come back. Hicks hit 27 home runs in 2018 and had similar results on a rate basis in his injury-marred 2017 and 2019 seasons. But he’s been well shy of that pace for three years running now. If it doesn’t come back, he’s a solid but unexciting regular or perhaps an overqualified fourth outfielder. If it does come back, he’d return to being the well-rounded player the Yanks were so excited about a few years ago. Since no trade has been made, it seems Hicks will get a chance to prove himself this year. Whether he succeeds or not could be significant in a hotly-contested AL East where every win could matter, in this year and the two years still remaining on his contract.
Image courtesy USA Today Sports.
the injured one
Is there any other one?
Hopefully the one that plays for someone besides the Yankees.
the traded one
I endorse that captain. Reportedly, in the article, the Yankees ste not finding a deal for Hicks to their liking lol . what do they expect, to get back trout. Nobody wants Hicks and his three years left of contract. The Yankees would have to pay a significant part of that, and they’re obviously unwilling to do so.
Yes Dr. I agree with you 100%. There is no reason why the Yankees can’t pick up at least half of that contract(15 million of the 30 million owed) and trade him to a team like the Orioles, for a mid level prospect. It obviously isn’t going to work out with the Yankees anymore, but it could definitely work out with another major league team out there for half the price. The Yankees should let this happen for sure.
I agree with that captain. That is the most reasonable scenario. I have a feeling that they will wait till the trade deadline, to acquire more offense anyway, and perhaps they feel that that would be a good time to move Aaron hicks as well, for something reasonable like what you suggest. For the Yankees it would be saving $15 million, which they could use to spend on another player that they need. I am reasonably sure that they feel they are stacked enough to make it to the trade deadline, and still have a good position within the division and the league.
LOL, Costanza, nobody wants your Spankee junk, especially the O’s, who have enough great prospects to field two MLB teams. Ca$hman is stuck with the three blacks holes—Hicks, Alfalfa, and Donaldsuck—he so brilliantly acquired. A mid-level prospect and $15 million for Hicks? ROFL. The Orioles wouldn’t waste a roster spot on this never-was hack… and I can’t think of a team so bad that it would.
LoL, Toddler, I really don’t what is a bigger joke yourself or the team you root for? Any of those great prospects ready yet for the major leagues? I wish your minor league team, my absolute best. Good luck, enjoy last place looking up at your Daddy all year.
Donaldsuck lmfao I’m effin dying over here
Hopefully the invisible one…
Haha Clipper. Is there any other kind?
Clipper I clicked on this article knowing I’d get to see your entertaining anti Hicks campaign in action lol
The one who expects to get paid per terms of the contract will be who shows up.
Hicks is a lifetime .231 hitter with ten (10) years under his belt. He is often injured and is starting to show a decline in speed. He has a propensity to hit into double plays and strike out in key situations.
To expect ANYTHING beyond this is absurd.
Very well articulated, Rick.
Nobody expects more than that. Even the Yankees don’t, they’re obviously trying to trade him as a result. There were just no takers, what a surprise lol. I think they are trying to pull a fast one on someone, and get them to take him without the Yankees having to pay too much, on their side. Good luck with that.
What’s worse is that his 10-and-5 rights are about to kick in this year. I’m very surprised they haven’t moved him for that reason alone unless 1 – the Yankees think he rebounds or 2 – they are willing to just eventually release him. 1 seems like a stretch.
@baseballfan2019- The Yankees have until August to move Hicks before he becomes a 10/5 player so they have plenty of time to do so. Worst case the Yankees DFA him and either trade him or release him. I doubt that happens though.
Well I know Cashman and Boone believe in his inherent talent and that a productive version of Aaron Hicks is in the realm of possibility depending on which iteration of the multiverse plays out. But then again, what else would you expect those two to say?
that, plus pop-ups with a bat drop 😉
Aaron Hicks is going to show up in 2023?
Will the real Aaron Hicks please stand up.
Aaron Hicks is awful. His contract was an albatross since Day 1. Yankees are going to wind up releasing him this year or next.
I, for one, will be glad to see him go so I don’t have to watch him pimp a solo HR in the 4th inning of a game once every week and a half.
You’re right, but if he did what you are suggesting, it would actually be an improvement.
I wonder If Aaron Hicks Is just like the Chicago Cubs Ian Happ and that just like that something go off a Aaron Hicks has a great 2023 and It leads to all star game and gold glove both things happen to Ian Happ.
And now looks like Ian will be cash In on his turn around with 5 or 6 year contract for 150-190 million dollars.
Good luck Aaron hope your success Is just like Ian provide the smart baseball people and fans wrong.
Did Ian Happ achieve that before or after he had put in 10 years?
It’s time to smell the coffee and awaken from delusional dreaming.
He certainly could bounce back but his time in the Bronx might be over. Sometimes it’s just time
Yankee fans thought it was a great deal in 2019!
Pretty sure that’s not the case, especially since he was injured yearly prior to even coming to the Yankees.
Look back through the comments when it was signed.
I would, but How do I identify the Yankee fans amongst a board of anonymous posts?
I’ll bite. I was supportive of Hicks’ signing. I don’t fault Cashman for his process (gamble) – an above average defensive CF’er coming off injuries who take pitches with a decent batted ball profile. Had he stayed healthy and panned out, $10M a year is a very good deal. Cashman lost his wager.
YBC: And it wouldn’t be problematic if they weren’t counting dollars. For the Yankees, eating his last three years shouldn’t pose a problem at all. In fact, it’s nearly equal to one year for Donaldson. Still, they should have no problem doing it. Cashman’s refusal to take a loss on a player is cutting his nose off to spite his face.
@Clip I’m not so down on Hicks as others. He has his uses kind of like end-career Gardy albeit 5x more expensive without the leadership. I agree about Hicks and JD. So much can be done this year with an extra $37M.
YBC: I respect that, man. But being honest, Hicks’ give-up game and throwing Boone under the bus pushed him to enemy #1 on my Yankees baseball list. I think there are so many players (including Gardy) who are far more deserving of a MLB position, especially on the NY Yankees.
But, if I *had to choose,* I think I would choose keeping Hicks over Boone because Hicks’ impact is nominal on the rest of the team, particularly with a decent manager, whereas Boone impacts many facets of the team/game/morale.
After seeing the Ahmed discussion, that’s a dude I wouldn’t mind in a Yankees uniform, playing SS while they figure out an arbitrary time frame in which to start Peraza/Volpe. He would’ve benefitted the team more than Montas, IKF, Rortvedt (so far), or Gallo.
You’re right clipper. Since the beginning of that foolish contract, Yankee fans have been complaining on these sites /boards about the contract ,and what a mistake it was. The guy had a lengthy history before he even got to the Yankees. Cashman was the only one who seem to think it was a good deal for some inexplicable reason.
Yankees traded that catcher, JP something, who was worse than Hicks. Yanks got 2 decent seasons but misjudged and took a contract they regret now. No way they can trade him without paying a chunk on the contract. They either do that, or keep him as OF depth. They could do worse for a 4/5 OF.
Before Cashman gave him that 6-year contract, Hicks had only one full season in which he played really well. In the prior season, 2017, he played well, but he only played in 88 games.
C Yards Jeff
@Cleon J: Yes, tradable, if Cashman eats most or all of his contract.
IMO, Orioles are still a year away from relevancy. Hays and Stowers for Hicks plus Cashman eats the contract.
Aaron starts in LF for Os but regardless of level of play cedes playing time to Cowser who probably starts out in Norfolk. Cowser and Hicks occasionally also get reps subbing for Mullins in CF and Santander in RF.
Also, I am a fan of Vavra; dudes a gamer. He plays that super around the diamond utility role including outfield duty.
Os are known for that infield prospect pipeline but don’t overlook their OF youth. Sneaky stacked. Because of it, IMO, Stowers gets kind of screwed timing wise in the pecking order thus moveable.
Hays starts for the Yanks in LF. Solid defender and holds his own offensively. Cheap too.
I am a mets fan and knew it was a bad deal from the jump because well … i expected what happened actually did happen. An outfielder than may get a little bit of a streak once or twice during the year and be injured around half it. If the yankees eat the difference .. how about ruf for hicks … i heard ruf mashes lefties 🙂
If he wants a paycheck he will…
Yankee fans will be very impatient given his performance over the last few years. I look for Cabrera or another to wind up playing LF.
He seems to do moderately adequate every other year. This year will be less than moderately adequate.
Hicks is 33, it would be both foolish and naive to expect that he is going to get better all of a sudden. Cashman paid big money for a 4th Outfielder, holding out hope that he can salvage the final 2 years of this deal by somehow reverting back to 2018 form is a pipe dream
Comrade Tipsy McBlotto
Y’all will be remembering this comment (and bowing down to me as a god) when Hicks has a better year than Judge in 2023. I guarantee it*.
* not a guarantee
I’d like to get a little tipsy myself after reading this article.
Hicks would have been a star last year for Detroit, and the Yanks have already paid for him. He gets on base, and the dough their paying is in line with his production too. The Tigers are going to pay Miguel what Hicks will get for the next three.. With rising salaries, he might end up under paid, so things have a funny way of working out.
The one not wearing pinstripes. One can hope…
Arson Hicks appears headed to the Giants
I still hold out hope he returns to the guy who only plays in about 90 games, but paces for 7 WAR and produces 3.8 WAR and quietly blends into the platoons he’s a part of.
Which Aaron Hicks will show up in 2023? I’m going to say the same one with the guaranteed contract who doesn’t have to do anything to earn it.
Lol that jabroni is definitely going to show up….on the IL at some point….on multiple occasions.
Is this even a worthy question? (No offense meant. I love the site)
The Hicks/Cabrera/Periera platoon should be above average for the Yanks. One of them will emerge to be better than Gallo was last year. This team is primed to take the division again!
Ha. That’s a really low bar. I would prefer something better than Gallo, much better.
The 2023 AL & World Series MVP. He’ll lead the Yankees to a 140-22 record in the regular season.
Trade him for John Ryan Murphy.
I remember being so mad about that trade. I’m still not sure the Yankees got the better of that deal. JR is out of the league but the Yankees are stuck with Hicks.
Is this question rhetorical? The question is not which Aaron Hicks will show up, Hicks rarely plays. The question should be how is Aaron Hicks not in jail for theft?
He has enough money to pay off the right people.
It’s the front office’s fault, not the player’s fault, when they give a long, costly contract to a player who fails to perform — especially when that player has a lengthy injury history and only one standout season.
:”its the front offices fault for giving him the money”
You realize ever since he signed the contract, he started to dog it and his production fell right? Most jobs you would get fired if you got a raise and then decided to take it easy and call off from work all the time. Being an MLB player is a job. Since these players get so much protection from the players union and the media, its up to us fans to keep the accountable for their on field performance. The millions of Yankee fans that boo Hicks when hes up at bat either at the stadium or in their own house do it as its the only way hes gonna realize he needs to start putting in the work and stop making excuses
The Saber-toothed Superfife
I’ve said that before.
Fans don’t boo as good.as they used too..or as often. We are too darn polite.
Members of the Illich family (except Marion, of course) should be boo’d on sight….
The Tigers stink because we don’t boo often enough…..the owner thinks everything is cool……
The Saber-toothed Superfife
I don’t have the nerve. Too frightened. Too polite ( in person).
I genuinely feel bad for this guy the way he was treated by fans.I get that he didn’t have a great year last year but getting an extension isn’t his fault
Cashman deserves more of the fans’ ire. He’s the one who gave a 6-year $70 million contract to a guy with a long injury history and one good season.
Cashman and GM’s are in a no-win situation many times.
If Hicks wasn’t signed , had another good year and left via free agency … everyone would be upset.
Judge was constantly hurt. The Yankees didn’t go overboard with an offer before last year because they wanted to see if he could stay healthy. He has a great year and Cashman is blamed.
If Cashman did sign Judge last year and he did get hurt again…. fans would be ripping him for spending so much money on a guy that’s always hurt.
Since his 2017 rookie season, not counting the 2020 truncated season, Judge had played in over 100 games in all five of his full major league seasons before being given his massive contract extension.
Since his 2013 rookie season, Hicks had played in at least 100 games in only two major league seasons before being given his 7-year contract (I misspoke above when I called it a 6-year contract).
Since his rookie year, Judge was already 5th in fWAR and HR, and 3rd in wRC+, before the start of the 2022 season. He had already been ROY, a 3-time All-Star, and twice in the top 4 in MVP voting.
You’re right that extending Judge was a gamble, and there’s plenty of time for that contract to look bad. But there was a more supportable rationale for taking that gamble in his case than in Hicks’s case.
Before his contract extension, Hicks had only one full season in which his OPS+ was above league average. Judge never had a season since his rookie year when his OPS+ wasn’t more than 40 points above the league average.
The GM’s job is harder than we fans often acknowledge, I’ll grant you that. But it’s hard for me to reconcile Hicks’s record and the contract extension he was given. I assume Cashman was factoring in proprietary analyses that gave him confidence that Hicks would stay healthy and continue to produce at his 2018 level. I can only — and in fact I do — hope that Hicks belatedly proves Cashman right this year at the age of 33.
I agree on Hicks. I wasn’t really trying to compare he and Judge, only in that all of these decisions are obviously gambles and despite analytics and background information, a GM can only project so much.
As Yankee fans, we can’t keep complaining about injury-riddled rosters when many times, Cashman hasn’t assessed these situations correctly and has taken on these risks recklessly. Montas and Hicks are clear examples.
*7 years but it seems like it has been 70 already.
There I go again, trying to be optimistic.
Dusty, most of the fans’ frustration with Hicks was limited to his inability to stay healthy for the most part. That is until last season when he said he’s bringing some F-U and claimed he was shooting for a 30/30 season. That wasn’t even the worst part: his mindless plays, lack of hustle resulting in extra bases taken or catchable balls dropping in fanned the flames. Then he completely bombed by staring at an easily catchable ball that he plain missed, while it sat in fair territory, and Rays players rounded the bases scoring runs.
It wasn’t just a bad year, man, it was a bad player having a bad attitude during a bad year. Then he blamed a lack of playtime for his terrible year and he played 140 games, which didn’t go over well either. And to top it off, he claimed Dave Roberts was able to get the most out of Gallo post-trade, further attempting to victimize himself for being on the Yankees, which was a shallow comment and inaccurate. Now, I can’t stand Boone as the manager, but Hicks’ terrible play has nothing to do with Boone.
The last time a Yankee insinuated to be traded was 2004 when Kenny Lofton, a much more accomplished player, who was on the IL while complaining about the lack of playing time. If Hicks doesn’t want to be here as he implied last Sept., I’m all for getting rid of him.
The “Head’s down every time he flies the ball” one.
Another year older so likely more injuries. I think if he struggles at all the fans will be brutal making it even worse.
Hicks greatest Yankee moment came against his twins. The catch…. What a game. Such a battle back and forth with hicks cranking a game tying home run in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs… then making the catch when the bases were juiced to end the game… was that worth 70 million?? Haha maybe
When does Hick’s 10/5 kick in, before the trade deadline?
Hick’s 10/5 rights kick in after the trade deadline, sometime in August.
I’ll gladly give you Ozuna for hicks! And I’ll even throw in a Rosario
He’s gonna suck.
The one that sucks.
The Saber-toothed Superfife
So…I’ve asked before…what do you get for 30-45M?
Hicks needs to find an old bottle of IRods laying around, just like Carpenter did last year.
Shame on you for accusing Carpenter of juicing without a scrap of evidence.
The one that’s the closest to the Mendoza line.
I know, right?
Will we get the one that sucks or the one that really sucks? Can’t wait to find out!
Either way, he’ll have a sprained labia by week 3
All things being equal regardless of salary or contract you have to choose between Aaron Hicks & Miguel Andujar who do you play?
That’s a tough call. I think I’d play Andujar, who’s 5 years younger.
I don’t hate Hicks, by any means. I think he’s a decent human being, but not a very good ballplayer anymore, and I think he might be less able to handle the mental toll of fan resentment than some players. I honestly think it would be an act of mercy to trade him.
I’m currently drafting in an NFBC 15 team league… each team rosters 50 players. Hicks got picked but Andujar is still available after 710 picks. Hicks got picked at 581st overall.
I don’t know, man. Andujar went unclaimed on waivers and isn’t even on the Pirates’ 40-man.
Wondering if there’s something wrong with Andujar that we don’t know about ?
That could be. Checking his numbers, I see he had no power last year. That shoulder might be bad. Seeing that, I change my mind: I’d play Hicks over him.
I’d take a 39 year old Bret Gardner over Ms. Hicks.
The washed up Aaron Hicks will show up.
He must hit really well in batting practice to justify that contract.
I doubt he will show up in 2023. He can’t take the pressure of NY anymore. Eat half of his salary and trade him. He is probably worth 5 mil a year to someone. Wonder if IKF could play some left field?
IKF is best suited for infield UTIL role. Not gonna mess with him playing the OF.
He got paid, started focusing more on golf than baseball and regressed into his Twins days. Gotta love long unnecessary contracts, for middling, flash in the pan players!
If I were the NYY, I wouldn’t be desperate to trade him. He’s a bit like Donaldson. Poor contract, but he is not a fatally flawed player. He should be a decent+ #4.
This article is proof you can put a positive spin on any history. The reality of history is that Aaron Hicks has been awful since the team wrote him a 7 year extension. When the author writes the Yankees have been fielding offers but have not found one to their liking, that is code language for the bag of balls only included 50, not 100.
1 season of 100 or more hits.
They haven’t budged on going to the next level of competitive balance tax. Who wants Hicks 0r Donaldson at anywhere near their current salaries. Either the Yankees get over the added Tax thing (doubtful) or they move players with some value. Moving Gleyber (which I wouldn’t recommend) and IKF will free up about $16MM.
Next year Donaldson comes off the books but Wandy, Severino, IKF and Bader are free agents… that will cost.
I also believe that’s precisely why they should extend Bader now. It will cost less than waiting until he hits FA and he will probably be open to signing for less years too.
The good news is, he’s gonna stay healthy this year. The bad news is, it’s only because it’s hard to get injured sitting in the dugout.
I keep reading remarks in articles about this left field competition to the effect that Florial never did much with his chances in the majors.
Here are some stats of two players in their first taste of the majors:
Player A: 45 AB, .222 BA, .286 OBP, .289 SLG, .575 OPS
Player B: 54 AB, .185 BA, .302 OBP, .278 SLG, .579 OPS
Player B is Estevan Florial. Player A is Mickey Mantle.
Mantle’s stat line is from his first month in the majors. Florial’s stat line is from all his combined AB in the majors over three years. Let’s quit pretending that Florial has gotten a real shot.
And you are comparing any player to Mantle?? Please. Just Stop
Couldn’t get a glove on the obvious point, I see.
I agree with you on this pink. Not to mention Florials chances at, at bats have been quite episodic and in consistent. That does not help a player to get any kind of rhythm either
This first half as well as spring training will be a test for Hicks. Can he stay healthy? Can he get in shape? Because if he puts up 25 and 70 rbi he’s worth his deal. We always kill these players for having a bad season. But all that matters is a World Series.. That’s all! Statistics are nice and they get players paid. But 62 home runs got us nowhere in the playoffs.
Go home MLBTR, you’re drunk. You’re not Fangraphs. These half-baked articles that attempt statistical analysis in like 4 paragraphs without any actual substance beyond regurgitating stats need to end.
There is only one Aaron Hicks, and he’s bad now
Garbage pail he stinks
The one that sucks ? Or the one that sucks more?
Haha. I guess those are the options indeed.