josh donaldson yankees
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have been among baseball’s biggest spenders this winter. Dropping $500-plus million on Aaron Judge and Carlos Rodon will do that. However, there’s still a significant question mark on the roster in left field. It sounds like a preferred resolution is only possible if New York can unload either Josh Donaldson or Aaron Hicks (or both).

This desire is not a new one. We heard reports of the Yankees wanting to find a trade partner for these guys earlier in the winter. Nothing has come to fruition, though. Now that we’re less than one month until Spring Training gets underway, the trade market may heat up.

If that’s the case, the Yankees remain willing to make it more attractive for an opposing team to acquire one of these players. This is what Bob Nightengale of USA Today said about what the Bronx Bombers are trying to do:

Meanwhile, the Yankees continue to let teams know that third baseman Josh Donaldson (who is owed $29 million) and outfielder Aaron Hicks (owed $30.5 million) are still very much available as they’re willing to eat part of the contracts.

As it stands, Hicks might be the left fielder on Opening Day. New York has been trying to pry Bryan Reynolds away from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Yankees haven’t only been trying to find another outfielder via the trade market, though.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported last week that the Yankees have also had discussions regarding the likes of Jurickson Profar and Josh Harrison — both free agents. So what’s stopping them? They’re the Yankees, just sign one of them, right?

Well, outside of a potential roster crunch, there would also be payroll ramifications. According to Heyman, the Bombers want to remain below the highest luxury-tax penalty level (you know, the Steve Cohen Tax). That limit is $293 million, and the Yankees are slightly below that right now.

Even if they had to kick in a significant amount of money to unload Donaldson or Hicks, a move of that nature could make another free-agent signing possible.

This could all change if the Yankees decide to change their stance on the luxury tax penalty. Of course, what they do over the next month or two is only part of the story. New York will likely need an acquisition or two at the trade deadline for the stretch run. So, if some more payroll room isn’t made now, this will remain an issue come July.

Matt Musico can be reached at and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.