Should They Stay or Go? (OF 1 of 2)
The Yankees have a lot of decisions to make this offseason, one could say there's bound to a "clash" of opinions. Let's talk about it.
Today I will be discussing some of the Yankees outfielders
2022 Statistics: 157 Games, .311/.425/.686/1.111 (211 OPS+), 177 Hits, 62 Home Runs, 131 RBI's, 111 BB's, 175 K's, +3 DRS, +0.5 Def, 10.6 bWAR/+11.4 fWAR
Contract Status: Heading into Free Agency
Set to be named the American League MVP in a few short weeks, Aaron Judge just posted one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history. In 2022, Judge posted the 24th (tied) best season by a position player by bWAR (and 5th best since 2000), the 7th most home runs in a season (and most in AL history), and the 23rd best season by OPS+ (for a player with at least 500 plate appearances).
He will never, ever do this again. It was miraculous to watch. While setting a new American League home run record, he also nearly hit his way to a batting title and a triple crown. It would've been awesome.
There is so much to be said about Judge. He's great with the media, he's great with fans, he's been akin to Derek Jeter in his lack of controversy, he's a heck of a ballplayer, and he's a face of baseball. However, if he stays a Yankee is a question totally up in the air. For the right price, I'd bring him back, but I think my price and his would differ by a large amount.
The Verdict: The "Aaron Judge Question" was asked for this weeks Tuesday Discussion question. If you have not read that, check it out here where you can find the contract I would offer Judge if I ran the Yankees. As to not spoil anything from there, my simple thoughts are that he'd be great to keep around, but I would not offer him a blank check. There has to be some give and take if he wants to remain in the pinstripes.
2022 Statistics: 110 Games, .211/.297/.462/.759 (113 OPS+), 84 Hits, 31 Home Runs, 78 RBI's, 50 BB's, 137 K's, -4 DRS, -8.2 Def, +0.7 bWAR/+1.2 fWAR
Contract Status: Has 5-Years/$150 Million Remaining on Contract through 2027 (with a 2028 option at $25 Million/$10 Million buyout; Marlins paying $5M in each of 2026-2028)
Last week I discussed about how Josh Donaldson was the biggest disappointment of 2022. In 2nd place was Giancarlo Stanton. Through the first half of the season, he was an obvious All-Star. He had 24 home runs in 76 games while posting an .835 OPS. He was keeping pace with Aaron Judge and was giving the Yankees a very powerful 1-2 punch in the middle of their lineup.
And then, as we've seen too many times, he got injured. He suffered a calf strain in May that kept him out for 2 weeks, Then had Achilles tendonitis in July which kept him out for a month. In the 2nd half of the season, Stanton played just 34 games, hit 7 home runs, and had a .151 batting average (with a .246 OBP and .336 SLG).
I talked yesterday about DJ LeMahieu and how the Yankees should look to him as an indicator about being careful when it comes to a new contract for Aaron Judge. I'd also advise them to look at Giancarlo Stanton and the large amount of money that he's going to get for the next 5 (!) years. Ballplayers fall apart quick. Hopefully this was a blip year for Stanton, but I can't be too hopeful.
The Verdict: The Yankees have a lot of money going to Stanton and a lot of control on him for the next half-decade. There's nothing to do about it. And, to make matters even more concrete, he has a no-trade clause so he's not going anywhere. Slot him in as a DH for the next 5 years with an average of 25 home runs each yeah to reach 500 by the time he's done in New York.
2022 Statistics: 17 Games, .097/.200/.097/.297 (-11 OPS+), 3 Hits, 0 Home Runs, 1 RBI, 3 BB's, 13 K's, -2 DRS, -1.4 Def, -0.5 bWAR/-0.4 fWAR
Contract Status: Still Under Pre-Arbitration; Under Contract through 2027
Yesterday I talked about how the Yankees have tried to sell us on the farm system for years and are running the same playbook for the likes of Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, and more. It used to be Judge, Sanchez, Gleyber, Severino...
Do you remember when Estevan Florial was also part of that group? He was a budding center field prospect who was destined to make Aaron Hicks' contract extension look foolish. In each of the last 3 seasons, Florial has been called up to the MLB. He's played in 29 games and had just 54 at-bats. I'm not going to judge him on the numbers. He hit .283/.368/.481 in Triple-A this year. There's nothing else for him to prove there. Give him a real shot to make the team next year. The Yankees have space in their outfield with the current team under contract for 2023.
The Verdict: The Yankees, if they want to show that the farm can produce talent, need to give Florial a legitimate shot in 2023. I don't expect him to be much better than a Quadruple-A player who will be destined to play in a foreign league, but there is potential. Remember: he's going into his age-25 season. Going into his age-25 season, Judge had had just 27 games at the MLB level. I don't see a competitive Yankees team on roster yet, I say to give Florial a shot.
2022 Statistics: 130 Games, .216/.330/.313/.642 (86 OPS+), 83 Hits, 8 Home Runs, 40 RBI's, 62 BB's, 109 K's, +4 DRS, +2.1 Def, +1.8 bWAR/+1.5 fWAR
Contract Status: Has 3 Years/$39 Million Remaining on Contract Through 2025 (With a 2026 Club Option at $12.5M with a $1M buyout)
If we want to play the WAR-per-Dollar game, Aaron Hicks was just barely worthwhile in 2022 (based on 1 WAR = $9 Million). The 2022 season was a much improved season from the past two years (of 0.7 and -0.3 bWAR) and marked the first season since 2018 where Hicks passed even 60 games played. This past season marked the 2nd most games he's played in during one season (137 games in 2018 being his most). That isn't to say he now has value. It is anything but. With 3-years and an average of $13 Million owed to him during that time, this is the bottom of the barrel for what he needs to do.
Hicks' time in New York (much like many of the Yankees) has run thin. The front office put together a team of boom-or-bust players and those who are busting (like Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres) are token players to look to as fans when thinking about whose in charge. Hicks doesn't show high energy, he's prone to making mistakes (like when he just shut down for a moment in left field), and he gives me no confidence when at the plate in an important situation. Yes, he's had some great moments over the years, but those moments aren't enough.
The Verdict: Will a team be willing to take a chance on Aaron Hicks by taking him in a trade? Worse trades in the MLB have happened over the years, so it wouldn't be unheard of. Especially if the Yankees were willing to attach a prospect (or two) to sweeten the pot.