It’s a bittersweet moment for the New York Yankees. After the team released outfielder Aaron Hicks, 34, with $27.6 million remaining on his contract through 2025, he has joined the Baltimore Orioles, a division rival.
Hicks batted fifth in the lineup against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 5 (KST) and went 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI, one walk and three stolen bases, including an RBI triple in the ninth inning, in Baltimore’s 8-3 win.
In four games since joining Baltimore on July 1, he is 4-for-5 with a home run, 11 RBI, three doubles, one triple and a 1.208 OPS. He’s walked in all four games and has two two-hit games. It’s a small sample size, but it’s an incredible turnaround considering how Hicks has been performing.
Hicks was released by the New York Yankees on March 27. In 28 games with the Yankees prior to his release, he was 1-for-18 with 13 doubles (in 76 at-bats), one home run, six RBIs, and a .624 OPS. After a three-year slump that began in 2021, the Yankees designated Hicks for assignment (DFA) on March 20.
As expected, no takers emerged during the waiver period, and the Yankees cleared Hicks for outright release. The Yankees released Hicks for about $27.6 million, including the remaining $7.62 million of his $10.5 million salary this year, $9.5 million in 2024-2025, and a $1 million buyout in 2026 if the team option is not exercised.
Hicks, a switch-hitting center fielder, debuted with Minnesota in 2014 before being traded to the Yankees in 2016 and becoming a regular in 2017. He hit a career-high 27 home runs in 2018 with an .833 OPS, and signed a seven-year, $70 million extension with the Yankees in February 2019.
However, back and elbow injuries limited him to just 59 games in the first year of the deal. In 2021, he was lost for the season after 32 games after undergoing left ankle surgery in mid-May. Even last year, when he was injury-free, he struggled mightily, batting .211 with eight home runs and a .642 OPS in 130 games. The Yankees had fallen out of favor, and a vocal New York media and fan base vilified Hicks.
“I don’t know what my role is,” said Hicks, who lost his starting job to begin the year. He was released after failing to rebound in the opening two months, but was saved by Baltimore, a team in the same American League 스포츠토토 (AL) East division as the Yankees. With starting center fielder Cedric Mullins out with a right groin injury, Baltimore picked up Hicks as a replacement, paying him the minimum salary ($720,000) plus a proportional amount for days remaining.
Baltimore general manager Mike Elias said, “There are things we look at from a scouting and evaluation standpoint that are very different than records. There are things about Hicks that we like, and we think he can help the team. “There are things we like about him, and we think he’s going to be a good fit for the team.” Hicks has made an immediate impact since joining the team.
After receiving his DFA last month, a teary-eyed Hicks hugged his teammates and said, “It’s part of the business. It’s part of the business. I have to move on to the next chapter. The Yankees are a really good team, but it just wasn’t a good fit for me.” The move to Baltimore, in the same division, could have been a boomerang for the Yankees.
Through five games, Baltimore is 37-22, two games ahead of the Yankees (36-25) for the second wild-card spot in the AL East. The two teams are scheduled to play a four-game series in New York next month from April 4-7 and a three-game series in Baltimore from April 29-31.