Despite the rumors that are currently swirling around include the possibility of the Yankees dealing Aaron Hicks, but New York should not pull the trigger.
Aaron Hicks had a solid season in 2017 that was marred by injuries. 2018 was very similar. Now, heading into 2019, and with one year left on his contract, Hicks is a potential trade piece. The problem? The Yankees need him to compete.
Source: One surprising name that the #Yankees have been getting hits on is Aaron Hicks—who is only under team control through the 2019 campaign. Hicks is projected to make $6.2MM in 2019 in salary arbitration, per MLBTR.
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) November 12, 2018
Hicks is elite…when he plays
If you go to Fangraphs and search for the best Centerfielders over the last two years, you will not see Aaron Hicks. Why not? Because you probably have “Minimum PA” set to “Qualified,” meaning the minimum number of plate appearances is set to qualify for the batting title. This is something Aaron Hicks has not achieved over the past two seasons. In fact, Hicks has only played in 225 games and come to the plate 942 times.
However, even though Hicks has only played in about 70% of the Yankees games since 2017, he is ranked as the 6th most productive centerfielder over that time. Yes, you read that correctly. Aaron Hicks is the sixth best centerfielder in the league for the last two seasons, and he hasn’t even played in 3/4 of the games.
Hicks has been good for 8.2 fWAR since the start of 2017, trailing only Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Tommy Pham, Lorenzo Cain, and Charlie Blackmon. If you adjust for plate appearances, Hicks jumps ahead of Blackmon and Cain. When he is on the field, Hicks is a top five centerfielder. There’s an argument to be made that he is the third best centerfielder behind Trout and Yelich, as he’s been more consistent than Tommy Pham, who took a step back last year.
Hicks Cannot Be Easily Replaced
Needless to say, the Yankees are in a position to win this year. How are they going to trade Hicks and replace top five production from the centerfield position? They really aren’t going to be able to. No matter who they put in centerfield they will not be as productive as Hicks has been unless they are trading for Mike Trout or Christian Yelich. By all means, if Brian Cashman can pull that off, he should.
There’s also another scenario where the Yankees sign Bryce Harper and put him in centerfield, which would open the door for Hicks to be traded. I don’t see it happening, but it’s at least a possibility.
Realistically, the only teams interested in Hicks are going to be teams who are competitive now, because he only has one year left on his contract. How could they give up a player that would help the Yankees now, if they are also trying to compete?