NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees rea during batting practice prior to the game against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 30, 2023 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
We’re just three games into the season and the first frustrated Yankee has made his feelings known. Before the Sunday finale against the Giants, benched outfielder Aaron Hicks grumbled to The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty.
Aaron Hicks hasn't started a game yet this year. And he doesn't know what his role is with the Yankees.
While Aaron Boone is quoted saying that Hicks will likely be in the lineup over the next couple of days, he only has himself to blame for his lack of position.
When the Yankees extended Aaron Hicks, the team likely thought they were locking down center field for the foreseeable future. Instead, Hicks has found himself frequently on the injured list. As a result, the Yankees have had to start Aaron Judge in center while also trading for expected starter Harrison Bader.
Hicks has also seen a sharp decline in his defensive metrics. In 2017, he recorded 15 defensive runs saved. In the years since, he has posted negative 16. As a result, the team has moved him to left field, where he has looked incredibly uncomfortable. From dropping balls near foul territory to awkward dives, it’s hard to have any confidence in his ability.
As Hicks has continued to miss time and struggle, Oswaldo Cabrera has firmly seized the left field position. Last year, while playing mainly in right, Cabrera quickly found a home in the Yankees outfield. Despite being an infielder throughout the minors, Cabrera earned 9 defensive runs saved in very limited time in 2022.
As a result, Hicks found himself battling another former infielder, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, for the top reserved outfield position. Despite not having played the outfield before, the Yankees made some waves by starting IKF in center field in the Sunday finale. It is clear that the Yankees simply have no faith in Hicks to play center field.
Perhaps the biggest noticeable difference between Aaron Hicks and IKF is the perceived difference in how they are handling their respected spots on the team. For IKF, this off-season saw him firmly lose the shortstop battle, placing his spot on the roster in jeopardy. Instead of sulking or complaining, it’s been reported that IKF proposed learning the outfield to “help the team.”
Meanwhile, the most recent comments from Hicks add to a troubling track record. After his infamous drop last season, Hicks was upset with his benching, and after the season expanded on his thinking, saying that he had regrets with how he handled himself towards the end of the year.
In those comments, Hicks mentioned that he was more focused on dropping in the batting order and his position change instead of on winning games. Now, just three games into the season, it appears that Hicks is entirely focused on his own placement with the team, instead of doing whatever he can to help the team win games.
With a long season to go, it’s going to be interesting to see what role, if any, Hicks has left in New York.