New York Yankees: Trading for Aaron Hicks a sign of things to come?


As word got out yesterday that the New York Yankees traded back-up catcher, John Ryan Murphy, to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder, Aaron Hicks, several things became clear:

These aren’t your grandfather’s Yankees, who relied on players such as Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.

There aren’t your father’s Yankees, who relied on players such as Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson.

Heck, these aren’t even your childhood Yankees, who relied on players such as Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams.

These are the 2015 New York Yankees, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

For years, specifically the better part of a decade, the Yankees were known to trade for or sign players that are passed their prime. As is often the case, the Yankees would either overpay to sign a player or trade for someone who had (at most) two good years remaining.

That phase has now ended abruptly with the trade that sent Hicks from Minnesota to New York. To be clear, Hicks isn’t some world-beater, capable of catapulting this franchise to a 28th title. This is a guy who will be asked to be a fourth outfielder/occasional starter.

Again, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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For starters, he might very well become a cheaper, more effective version of Chris Young. Last season, Hicks, a switch-hitting outfielder, hit .307 off of lefthanders. While Young hit a robust .327 against lefties last season, one cannot simply ignore his .182 average against righties. By comparison, Hicks hit righties at a .235 clip. Not something to be proud off, but still better than what Young did. Other than that, across the board, Young and Hicks put up similar numbers in nearly the same amount of at bats (Young had 318 while Hicks had 352).

But this isn’t about Young, though. This move, as shrewd as it may be, may have been made as some sort of antecedent to another move that the Yankees might or might not make this off-season. And so we have the rather large elephant in the room, the topic of Brett Gardner.

Gardner, who has three-years and $38 million left on his contract, might be the most expendable Yankee on this roster. As was the case with Young, Hicks is also a cheaper alternative to Gardner, who could be moved to (cough, Seattle) for some younger talent.

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While General Manager, Brian Cashman, mentioned that this move won’t dictate what the Yankees do going forward, he did say that this move gives the team some flexibility.

“At the very least, he provides us what we were getting from Chris Young the last two years,” said Cashman to the New York Daily News. “At the very most, he provides us a lot of flexibility depending on how the winter transpires.”

The trade, particularly the portion that sent Murphy to Minnesota, could also open up a spot for Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ number five ranked prospect. He’ll have some competition for the back-up catcher spot from Austin Romine, but at this point, if he cannot surpass Romine, he might not be worthy of further consideration.

Nothing is ever certain in baseball, but the Yankees, in all of their $240 million payroll glory, could very well have made their most important move this early in the offseason.

Shrewd, indeed.