The Yankees have traded backup catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins in return for outfielder Aaron Hicks, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Rumors concerning the Yankees' outfield were already circulating with reports of the Yankees and Mariners discussing a potential deal for Brett Gardner. Acquiring Hicks may allow them to bypass a new deal for fourth outfielder Chris Young, or it may be a preview of other moves to come that involve moving outfield pieces.
Murphy did everything you could want out of a backup catcher during 2015 and his celebrations endeared him to many. Moving him does, however, open the door for Gary Sanchez to potentially snag the backup job in 2016 after improving his stock with a strong 2015 season and brilliant performance in the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately, the Yankees could also decide to go with Austin Romine as the backup while allowing Sanchez to play every day at Triple-A. The Yankees are facing a bit of a 40-man roster crunch, and parting with some of their catching depth does make sense. For a long time it seemed like Sanchez would be the obvious piece the Yankees would try to trade, but obviously they found a deal for Murphy they liked and took it.
Hicks played 97 games for the Twins in 2015, batting .256/.323/.398 with 13 stolen bases. He hit lefties well in 2015, batting .307/.375/.495 against them as a switch-hitter, while only hitting right-handers at a .235/.302/.359 clip. That doesn't seem like something you'd get to make you feel better about trading Gardner away, but who knows what Cashman has up his sleeve. This is likely the first of a few deals the Yankees will make this offseason, and hopefully everything makes more sense once the dust settles.