Yankees have huge outfield liabilities that need to be addressed
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has indicated he could target another outfielder this offseason in free agency. Allowing Clint Frazier to walk and dismissing Brett Gardner’s club option leaves a hole in the outfield, but it’s not the reserve spot he has to ponder, it’s the starting spot of the hosted central field by Aaron Hicks.
Hicks, who signed a seven-year, $ 70 million contract in 2019, is entering the fourth season of his contract after being injured for two of the first three years. He is expected to earn a base salary of $ 10.5 million at age 32, but with the deal not ending until 2025, the Yankees have to pay a significant amount of money going forward.
The veteran outfielder only played 32 games last season after playing 59 in 2019 at the start of his contract. Last year, he posted a meager 0.194 average with four home runs and 14 RBIs. His strikeout rate of 23.8% was the highest since 2019 and the 11.1% walk rate was the lowest since 2016.
Just as he signed that long-term overtime, his quality of play dropped significantly, leaving the Yankees with a major problem down center.
Trying to come back to the problems, Hicks played in the Dominican Republic’s Winter League which ended last Thursday. In 12 games, Hicks is averaging 0.265 with a homerun, nine RBIs, 10 strikeouts and an OPS of 0.729.
While his numbers in the Winter League are respectable, the Yankees ultimately need to consider potential replacements. One player they’ve been linked to is Japanese star Seiyu Suzuki, who could take over in right field, moving Aaron Judge to center. Hicks can be a glorified reserve and designated hitter in roster, given his hitting abilities.
There are a few other options the Yankees can consider in free agency, including Kevin Pillar or even Ketel Marte in a potential trade. Somehow, Cashman must make a decision at a place that currently belongs to a passive to Hicks, which has left the Bombers breathless with Gardner at the end of his career and Frazier grappling with the fear of heights.