When the news first broke on the Aaron Hicks extension, the first thing my eyes hit upon was the fact that the contract was for seven years. I was shocked. My first reaction was, “Seven years for Hicks and they won’t even engage Harper?” But then, I was that the total value of the deal was $70 million and I was amazed. My next thoughts were, “The Yankees locked up Hicks for only ten million dollars a year. Holy cow!” What a deal for the Yankees. What a tremendous deal!
For months, I have advocated spending big. I really want Bryce Harper in pinstripes. I always want the young superstar player to come to New York. Always. This deal doesn’t change that, in fact, it signals that the Yankees are locking up players (Luis Severino was extended on a team friendly contract recently as well) for very reasonable salaries which makes it seem even easier to spend big on a few big name players. Part of the excitement of baseball for me, as a Yankees fan, is watching them acquire the great talents of the game and then rooting for those players in pinstripes. This is the model of how the Yankees have operated for almost (save for the last few years) my entire life, “We get the big name guy.” I will always want the Yankees to spend big to acquire the best talents. Now that they have Hicks and Severino (and presumably a few more young players (is Didi Gregorius next?) ) signed, the expensive contracts shouldn’t hurt the team’s bottom line as much…right?
All that being said, maybe the Yankees are on to something. Maybe they are reading the market of baseball better than the other teams. Maybe, just maybe, they’re correct to not give the monster contracts right now. The Yankees might have seen this trend before many other teams and they are jumping now to lock up the core to be a powerhouse for the next few years. The Yankees do seem to be somewhat ahead of the curve in starting to lock-up their young talent. I always want the Yankees to be smart in their business matters so that they are the best team. Maybe this is the new trend. If it is, I don’t necessarily like it (because I want Harper in the Bronx!), but I (reluctantly) get it. I am all for an organization being smart. Ultimately, I want World Series wins. If this is how to do it, then I’m on board.
Aaron Hicks is a very (very) good player who is trending up. If each win is worth $9 or $10 million, he only needs to be a 7-8 WAR player over the life of the contract for this to benefit the Yankees. Aaron Hicks was a 3.9 WAR player in 2017 and a 4.7 WAR player (from baseball-reference) last year. A repeat of those two years in 2019 and 2020 in essence pays for the contract. I also don’t see any reason why Hicks shouldn’t be at least as good over the next two to three seasons as he has been the last two years. In some ways,. I think he’ll be better!
One knock on Aaron Hicks has been his health. He has played in over 100 games in a season only twice in his career. Last year he set his career high in games played with 137. (In 2016, he played in 123 games.) The Yankees need Hicks to stay healthy and in the line-up. They are now building around him as a central core of the team.
As Hicks ages and loses his defensive advantage, Estevan Florial (just 21 years old) should be ready to take over in center field. I believe that Hicks’ defensive skill set should translate well to left field. As he ages, the contract will not be an albatross. This will allow the Yankees to move on from him, or trade him, if necessary, to make room for whoever the young talents are at that time. Still, I see Hicks as a quality left fielder in the last years of the deal.
With Hicks and Judge (no long term deal yet, but under team control for many years to come), the Yankees have 2/3 of their outfield set. Add in the hopes of Florial and Clint Frazier contributing soon and the Yankees seem to have solidified the position for the next half-decade at least. I think a Hicks, Judge, Frazier/Florial outfield seems like a good bet to be among the best in the game. Adding Brett Gardner as a fourth outfielder and, of course Giancarlo Stanton, makes it a strength in 2019 (so long as they all stay healthy).
(I can’t help it…) Bryce Harper would add to this tremendously talented outfield… and he’s three years younger than Hicks. (Forgive me, I’m just having some fun here.)
River Ave Blues noted that among center fielders over the period of 2017-18, Aaron Hicks actually ranks as the third best player at that position in all of baseball. Only Mike Trout (16.8 WAR) and Lorenzo Cain (12.2 WAR) have out performed Hicks’ 8.6 WAR at the position. Amazing. Hicks, also seems to be a player who was a late bloomer and is getting better as he ages into his late twenties and early thirties. I am excited to see what he does in 2019.
Without the pressure of having to play for a contract, and now knowing he’s set for life and will be a long-term Yankee, it is very possible that Aaron Hicks thrives over the next few years. I sure hope so!
I can’t help but wonder if players like Aaron Hicks are also wondering is baseball’s finances have changed dramatically and are now willing to jump at team friendly deals like this. It will be interesting to see what transpires with the Yankees other young stars. For mortals like us $70 million is a huge amount of money (I’d be willing to sell this popular blog for less than that), but for top a baseball player it seems very low. Hicks might be just one of a number of players across the game willing to bank of financial stability rather than the unknown that comes with free agency today. Again, $70 million dollars is a lot of money.
One can’t put a monetary value on this, but Aaron Hicks adds to a great core of players on the Yankees that are just simply fun to root for. He always seems to be smiling. He seems to give his all. He seems like a great guy. Aaron Hicks seems to love the game. It’s fun to root for players who love to play the game.
I am very happy that Aaron Hicks will be a Yankee for a long time. This was a great deal for the team. I see this working out extremely well for Hicks and the Yankees moving forward.