Unfortunately for the fans, Hicks will probably be around a little while longer. NJ.com’s Bob Klapisch reports the team is done making moves before spring training. That leaves Hicks with another opportunity to shine in spring training and be the starting left fielder on Opening Day. And just when we were getting excited about Max Kepler or Ian Happ too.
This doesn’t mean Hicks will absolutely be a Yankee in 2023. Nor is general manager Brian Cashman sitting in idle complacency. Remember, New York didn’t trade for Jose Trevino until the end of spring training last year. This year’s trade market is just slow to materialize.
But in the interim, the Yankees have plenty of options with Hicks and should weigh each of them. Let’s take a closer look.
Release him. This is the most unlikely scenario by a wide margin. Hicks has $29.5 million left on his contract and owner Hal Steinbrenner has never been one to just eat money on bad deals. Remember, the Yankees paid Japanese bust Kei Igawa $20 million and just stashed him in the minors.
Thus, the only way I see the Yankees truly washing their hands of Hicks is if he’s just plain awful in spring training. He’ll likely refuse an assignment to the minors, so this would be when Cashman and Steinbrenner sit down with him about either cutting him or buying out his contract.
Make a trade. Between Kepler, Happ, and Bryan Reynolds, the trade market has outfielders aplenty for the Yankees. The problem is that in any deal involving Hicks, they’ll need to cover a big chunk of that $29.5 million.
And if we think realistically, there’s absolutely a deal to be made for Hicks. It’s just a matter of finding a team in deep enough of a rebuild that’s willing to take a chance. His Savant page does him no favors, but it’s hard to believe Hicks is so feast-or-famine that he can’t survive without hitting juiced baseballs.
Cashman got minor league bullpen depth for Joey Gallo. There’s no reason to believe he can’t get a similar (and probably better) return for Hicks.
Stand pat. And yet, there does seem to be a very real possibility that the Yankees keep Hicks and start him in left field on Opening Day. For all we know, he’s figured out the hole in his swing and will be a new player in 2023. The Yankees probably hope so, given how much they’ve invested in him.
More importantly, Oswaldo Cabrera proved last year he can take some reps in the outfield. He’s an everyday utility player, a la DJ LeMahieu, and is a switch-hitter like Hicks. Who’s to say they can’t platoon the position?
Pitchers and catchers report in just over a month. Hopefully, the Yankees soon figure out what to do with Hicks.
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