Posted on February 25, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The New York Yankees continue to be front and center in the trend of giving contract extensions to young, talented players. On Monday, it was outfielder Aaron Hicks who had his future in the Bronx secured. The Yankees and Hicks have agreed to a 7-year deal worth $70 million. The contract runs through the 2025 season, plus a club option for the 2026 season. Hicks was previously set to become a free agent next winter. Instead, he’s now a long-term part of the Yankees.
“I thought it was a fair deal and I want to be here,” Hicks said at a press conference Monday. “The guys in the clubhouse, I want to fight with them. I want to go to war with them, which is the main reason why I signed the deal here.”
Even with the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and longtime Yankee Brett Gardner in New York’s outfielder, Hicks has carved out a permanent role in the New York lineup. The 29-year-old struggled to assert himself with the Twins early in his career, but he finally had a breakout season in 2017, despite missing time late in the season with an oblique injury.
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“I just kept pushing,” Hicks said of his gradual improvement from one year to the next. “I wanted to get in the lineup. Once I got in the lineup, I wanted to play every single day. I just kept pushing and pushing. Now I have this great opportunity and I want to keep going.”
Last season, Hicks established himself as New York’s center fielder of the future. He hit .248 with 27 home runs and 79 RBIs, helping him post an OPS of .833. Hicks also made 129 starts in center field, proving himself to be valuable on the defensive end as well as being a consistent contributor on offense. Even if top-prospect Estevan Florial eventually takes over as the team’s center fielder of the future, Hicks should have no problem sliding over to a corner spot, especially with Gardner’s career in its late stages.
“I think Aaron Hicks is the most underrated player in the game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said over the weekend. “He’s such a valuable player, playing a premium position. As good as our guys control the strike zone, he’s probably the poster child of it. The ability to hit for power from both sides, athleticism and speed; he’s a complete player.”
There’s no doubt that the Yankees are sold on Hicks and believe he’ll continue to be a high-level player both offensively and defensively. At an average of $10 million per season, the Yankees aren’t overpaying him by any stretch. However, there is some risk in committing seven years of paychecks to a player who is somewhat reliable on his speed and will turn 30 in October. However, with both Judge and Stanton under team control for the immeduate future and a fair amount of depth in the farm system, the Yankees can take that risk.
As for Hicks, the extension secures his financial future. It’s possible he could have done better on the open market next winter. But based on the tepid free agent market the past two winters, there’s no guarantee that would be the case. Plus, if Hicks wants to stay with the Yankees and the club is willing to sign him to a long-term deal, it’s a no-brainer for both teams to sign an extension.