By the time Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Hicks is ready to return from a month-long stint on the disabled list, it’s presumed that rookie Clint Frazier will be the odd man out — bound for a demotion back to Triple-A in order to open up a roster spot.
Well, perhaps it’s not quite time to jump to conclusions on that move, according to Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman.
“Listen, there’s only 25 spots. There’s only so much flexibility the roster actually has with people who have options,” Cashman told ESPN’s The Michael Kay Show on Tuesday afternoon. “We’ll just worry about it when it comes. [Frazier’s] earned the right to play and play above others, and he’s been helping us, which is awesome. And listen, we acquired him for a reason. We gave up a lot to get him, along with [Justus] Sheffield and others. I’ve gotten the threats of, ‘How dare you consider sending our Clint down,’ which, you know, is exciting. He’s putting a name on his back, even though we don’t put names on our backs, which is great. It’s what we want.
“But Aaron Hicks is, I’m happy to say, he’s gonna do some batting practice here. I think he leaves for Scranton tomorrow and then you’ll start to see the rehab protocol with him and games played starting to take place, which means he’s getting close. So sometime here in August, he’s gonna return to play and he was a big reason why we won a lot of games earlier, and we’ll have to make room for him some way, shape or form. If everybody stays healthy, we’ll have to make room with whomever is in position to be optioned down.”
Frazier, who made his Major League debut in Houston exactly one month ago, has made the most of his playing time thus far. In 23 games, the highly touted 22-year-old has slashed .270/.298/.539 with four home runs and 17 RBI, displaying raw power at the plate and lightning speed on the basepaths. His presence in the lineup has been so beneficial that it’s currently forced veteran outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury into a $21 million platoon role, as the Yankees have considered Frazier to be the “hot hand” compared to the 33-year-old (who’s hit .243 with 18 RBI in almost 40 more games than the rookie).
But the situation will be become more complicated once Hicks is activated. Before suffering a right oblique injury against the Texas Rangers on June 25 at Yankee Stadium, the 27-year-old was one of the team’s most reliable hitters, well-deserving of an All-Star appearance. In 60 games this season, Hicks has slashed .290/.398/.515 with 10 homers, 15 doubles and 37 RBI, so when the time comes, New York will encounter a new high-end problem.
The entire Cashman interview can be reached here.