Between Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodon, Anthony Rizzo, and Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees have spent more than $500 million this winter. Despite that, the Bronx Bombers are currently headed for Opening Day with a huge question mark in left field. According to NJ.com‘s Bob Klapisch, Aaron Hicks appears to be penciled into that spot on the diamond. For now.
It’s not like general manager Brian Cashman hasn’t tried to change that. New York has reportedly made Hicks and third baseman Josh Donaldson available via trade this offseason. So far, there have been no takers. Part of it could be that the trade market hasn’t really heated up just yet. Another part could be that there just isn’t a ton of interest right now.
In addition to trying to trade some players away, the Yankees have also tried acquiring some. You know, like Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds. There’s lots of competition for him and the asking price is steep. New York could acquire a different player ahead of Spring Training (like Max Kepler or Ian Happ). However, Klapisch is also reporting that no other major moves are anticipated by New York right now.
The possibility of not acquiring another starting outfielder has been very real since Andrew Benintendi signed with the Chicago White Sox. With that in mind, Cashman has added to the outfield depth chart over the past couple of weeks. This includes minor-league signings with Willie Calhoun, Billy McKinney, and Rafael Ortega.
And, while he’d be playing out of position, Oswaldo Cabrera has also shown an ability to play left field if needed. One has to imagine Hicks must earn the starting left-field job in Spring Training. So, him actually jogging out to left field to face the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium is far from a certainty.
After posting career highs in fWAR (4.3), wRC+ (129), and homers (27) in 2018, Hicks hasn’t looked like the same player. Now entering his age-33 campaign, the outfielder has combined to post 3.3 fWAR and 30 homers since 2019. That period spans 275 games.
If no other major additions are made, it’ll be an interesting competition to follow during camp. There’s Hicks and Cabrera, as well as Calhoun, who received an invite to big-league Spring Training with his minor-league deal.
For a team like the Yankees, who are fresh off an ALCS appearance and expectations of getting back to the postseason, this is a big roster hole. That doesn’t mean they need to get desperate for a trade right now, though. Something could still materialize during Spring Training. And if it doesn’t, New York may feel like there are enough players currently on the roster to make it work short-term until rumors start flying for the midseason trade deadline.