Aaron Hicks Signing – My Reaction and Thoughts
My first reaction to the Aaron Hicks deal was that it must be a typo.
My second reaction was that I sort of felt badly for Hicks, if one can feel badly for someone who will be paid $70 million to play baseball.
In short, this is a spectacular deal for the Yankees. Aaron HIcks was worth 4.9 wins in 2018. At $9 million per win, that’s almost $45 million for one season. He has been worth approximately $82 million over the past two seasons. The Yankees just signed D.J. LeMahieu, a utility infielder who should be worth around 2 wins a year for $12 million a season. Getting Hicks (a center fielder) for $10 million a season is highway robbery. I can’t believe that Cashman even had the gall to propose this deal much less that Hicks accepted it.
Assuming Hicks is worth 4.1 WAR in 2019 (the average of the past 2 years) improves by .25 in his age 30 season and then declines by .5 WAR per year starting with his age 31 season, this is what his WAR totals look like over the 7 years of this contract:
Those 22.7 wins are worth around $204 million at $9 million per win. This is roughly 3 times $70 million. For a player who was one year form free agency.
Hicks should age reasonably well as a hitter given that his plate discipline and power should remain solid even if his bat speed diminishes a bit. He will lose some value as a fielder when he is forced to move to left field (or DH).
The Yankees could get clogged with left field/DH types with Stanton and Hicks both fitting in that bucket. They will need a center fielder of the future at some point.
But this deal should pay for itself in the first two years and the two after that should be some very nice gravy. Even if Hicks is a fourth outfielder in the last year or two of the contract, this is a great deal.
I’m not sure what this deal says about the market. There have been some very robust contracts handed out this off season (e.g. the above mentioned D.J. LeMahieu) and also some great values for teams (Sonny Gray). Maybe the Hicks extension is an outlier and reflects Hicks’ desire to stay in New York. Maybe Hicks is grateful for Cashman picking him out of the ash bin and giving him a chance.
This kind of deal allows the Yankees to lock up a very good player at a premium position for at least four years (before Hicks potentially declines as a fielder). That $10 million salary allows them to free up money for other players at other positions.
This is a great signing by Cashman and the Yankees.