All signs are pointing to Aaron Hicks being the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder. That is, unless general manager Brian Cashman makes a deal soon.
“I suspect he will be the guy that emerges, because he’s still really talented, and everything’s there,” Cashman said during a recent radio appearance. “Hopefully, we get the Aaron Hicks that we know is in there back as a consistent player for us.”
This isn’t a surprise, nor the outrage #YankeesTwitter is making it. Yes, Hicks hasn’t had a productive season since he broke out with aid of juiced baseballs in 2018. He hit .216 in 130 games last year and looked lost all year long, but three years and $30.5 million left on his deal means he stays.
However, there is one trade avenue for Hicks that isn’t discussed nearly enough. What if the Yankees prioritized not just any Hicks trade, but one specifically with the Arizona Diamondbacks? And what if he was packaged with Gleyber Torres to sweeten the pot?
The reasoning behind trading Hicks to the Snakes is simple. He lives in the Phoenix area with his wife and son, and so do his two sons from a previous relationship. Going home to his own Paradise Valley mansion instead of a luxury rental in the metropolitan area sounds like a sweet deal, right?
We’ve already discussed trade scenarios for Torres and even mentioned Arizona. They need an upgrade in their middle infield and are also down an outfielder after trading Daulton Varsho to Toronto. It also helps that the Diamondbacks have an influx of young outfielders to offer New York back, namely Corbin Carroll. Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy could also be great fits in the Bronx.
The issue, of course, is the money. Hicks is basically a three-year, $30 million commitment. Torres is seeking north of $10 million in arbitration. Arizona’s payroll, meanwhile, topped out at just under $86.5 million last year. The team also lost upwards of $100 million in gate revenue in 2020 and ’21, and ownership has been battling MLB over a new stadium for years. It’ll take some convincing for them to take on just a portion of Hicks’ contract, let alone two arbitration years for Torres.
Now 33, Hicks is at the point where he needs a change of scenery. He certainly acted like he’d prefer one at the end of last year. Going home to Arizona and playing for fans with realistic expectations could make the switch-hitter a small-market star. Having an old teammate in Torres along for the ride would only ease the transition.
The sad truth is at this point, this deal isn’t happening. Not even if the Yankees agree to pick up 50% or more of the remaining salary. Hicks’ trade value is at or near rock bottom and he’ll need to put last year behind him before moving anywhere. At a minimum, Yankees fans can look forward to him sharing left field with Oswaldo Cabrera.
But if New York is as serious about moving Torres as is being reported, they should at least try packaging Hicks with him. At worst, teams say no. At best, they’re one step closer to offloading his contract and hopefully getting at least something back in return.
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