The Orioles have shown “serious” interest in outfielder Aaron Hicks, whom the Yankees released last week following a DFA, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (Twitter link). Pinstripe Strong podcast host JoezMcFly first connected the two parties (Twitter link). The Baltimore Banner’s Andy Kostka tweets that no deal is finalized but adds that one could come together quickly. That could suggest that Hicks has yet to complete a physical, but regardless of whether things have progressed to that stage, it seems quite possible that Hicks will wind up remaining in the AL East.
The Baltimore outfield took a hit with yesterday’s injury to Cedric Mullins, who was diagnosed with an abductor/groin strain and is expected to land on the injured list. The veteran Hicks would give the O’s an alternative in the outfield, whether directly replacing Mullins in center or logging some time in left field while Austin Hays shifts up the defensive spectrum.
That’s assuming the two parties are discussing a big league deal, which certainly isn’t a given when considering the recent struggles from Hicks, who batted .188/.263/.261 in 76 plate appearances prior to his release. However, a Major League deal would only require Baltimore to pay Hicks the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the big league roster. The Yankees remain on the hook for the rest of Hicks’ $10.5MM salary, as well as the $9.5MM he’s owed in both 2024 and 2025 (and the $1MM on the buyout for his 2026 club option).
Both Hays and Ryan McKenna present alternatives to Mullins in center field. Prospect Kyle Stowers could also slot in there at some point — or in left field, with Hays sliding to center — but he’s been on the minor league injured list since May 23 due to inflammation in his shoulder. He’s thus not an option in the short term. Baltimore doesn’t have many other outfield options on the 40-man roster, but the O’s do have a 40-man vacancy at the moment, as they’ve yet to fill the spot that opened when catcher Luis Torrens rejected an outright assignment a couple weeks ago.
Hicks, 33, was a solid but oft-injured member of the Yankees outfield from 2017-20, batting a combined .247/.362/.457 (123 wRC+) in 1408 trips to the plate during that time. His offensive output cratered in 2021, however, and has yet to rebound. He’s batting just .209/.315/.310 in 655 big league plate appearances since Opening Day 2021, and his formerly strong glovework has taken a dip as well. With Mullins and Stowers ailing, Hicks presents a low-cost, game-ready option.
There’s minimal risk in bringing him aboard and seeing if he can bounce back to some extent outside Bronx spotlight. If he can successfully do so, he can stick around as a low-cost depth option. If not, the O’s could move on once their incumbent outfielders get a bit healthier (or sooner, if they want to take a look at a non-roster outfielder like former first-rounder Colton Cowser or minor league veterans such as Daz Cameron and Ben DeLuzio).