The weight of Yankees pinstripes has finally crushed Aaron Hicks, a player who joins a long list of players who couldn’t cut it in New York.
After eight unremarkable years, Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks has been exiled and freed to explore other opportunities in baseball.
Oddly, the Yankees’ decision to DFA(Designate For Assignment) Hicks came at the height of a team resurgence and a modest awakening of his bat.
Aaron Hicks joins a substantial list of players who were not immune to the Yankees’ pinstripes and never lived up to their hype and potential for many reasons.
Fans can recall former Yankees like Greg Bird, Sonny Gray, Gary Sanchez, and most recently, Joey Gallo, all of whom were given several opportunities to succeed by the Yankees, only to reap the wrath of fans by their continued poor play, often engendered by a rash of injuries.
Yankees Ride With Hicks Fraught With Failure
Now 33, Hicks joined the Yankees at age 26 in a trade with the Minnesota Twins for John Ryan Murphy. However, the trade was always viewed as a head-scratcher as Yankees GM Brian Cashman launched an ongoing hype centered on Hick’s skills in center field, a position that had been a headache for the team for years.
By all accounts, Aaron Hicks was well-received in the Yankees’ clubhouse as a hard worker. Still, it’s hard to believe that some of his teammates privately didn’t have other thoughts about the value of Hicks to the team, especially when Aaron Boone kept writing his name in the lineup night after (unsuccessful) night.
Most damaging to Hick’s time in New York is the $70 million, seven-year contract awarded to him by Brian Cashman following the 2019 season. Luis Severino, another Yankees player befallen by injuries since his signing, was also given a similar contract.
Hicks, however, comes nowhere near the Yankees’ most extraordinary Robber Barron of their money, Jacoby Ellsbury.
There’s Room For Blame On All Sides
No one can recall Hicks or Severino lobbying or asking for such a generous contract. While Cashman has never adequately defended his reasons for making the offers (no one would refuse), it’s fair to say that the pressure on Hicks was doubled and tripled by the albatross of his contract, along with his inability to stay healthy and on the field.
It’s hard to believe that Aaron Hicks, when healthy, has forgotten how to hit a baseball. But at the same time, let’s remember his best season with the Yankees carried marks of .248, .367 OBP, 27 home runs, and 79 RBI, not precisely numbers designed to launch him into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
Yankees fans who live for this kind of thing will now need to find a new punching bag. Watch out, Gleyber Torres, another much-hyped New York Yankee, who, save for one season, has yet to reach a plateau commensurate with his potential. And watch out even more, Josh Donaldson (hopefully).
For Hicks himself, there is bound to be life after purgatory. All he has to do is look to Minnesota, where Joey Gallo has regained his power stroke, and Sonny Gray is challenging for a Cy Young award with the Twins.
A player like Hicks, who is designated for assignment, is immediately removed from the team’s 40-man roster, after which the team must, within seven days, return the player to the 40-man roster, place the player on waivers, trade the player, release the player, or outright the player from the 40-man roster into Minor League Baseball.
Again, Hicks carries over $20 million in unpaid salaries with him, limiting the number of teams able to take him on their roster.
Yankees And Aaron Hicks Moving On
If he can swallow his pride, the best scenario for Hicks is to sign a minor-league deal with a team with an excellent minor-league hitting coach, starting over by playing every day and proving himself all over again to the powers in baseball. The most “proving” Hicks must do is to himself, regaining the confidence he once had.
For the Yankees, the long nightmare with Hicks is over. Giancarlo Stanton is due back soon, and Aaron Hicks is no longer there as the elephant in the room for Aaron Boone to deal with and find playing time for.
Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner gets good marks for eating the money. It could have been done sooner, but at least the air at Yankee Stadium will breathe cleaner – and the Yankees are winning.