Back in February, the Yankees signed Aaron Hicks to a seven-year, $70 million contract extension. It’s not the extension itself that surprised some, but the longevity of it. It is pretty strange for a team to extend a 29-year-old until he’s 36, especially when a top prospect in the organization plays center field, but that’s what the Yankees decided to do.
Hicks has been somewhat injury-prone since arriving in New York in 2016, and this year proves no different. He has made multiple trips to the injured list in 2019. These stints on the shelf have some fans comparing Hicks to Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out for so long that he has yet to play under Aaron Boone.
These comparisons, however, are not accurate. Yes, they both signed seven-year deals to play in New York and have both missed their fair share of games. The biggest difference between the two, though, should be obvious: the money they’re making.
Again, Hicks is making $70 million over seven years, giving him $10 million per season. Ellsbury on the other hand, is earning $152 million over seven years, putting roughly $22 million in his pocket every year. There are 12 million reasons why Ellsbury’s contract is more onerous.
One should also take their ages into perspective. Hicks will be 36 when his time with the Yankees is up. Ellsbury turns 36 today—happy birthday, by the way—and he will be on the roster for another year after this. Even if Hicks’ performance starts to slow down or he can’t stay on the field, $10 million a year is doable for a trade, and could also be in DFA territory if need be.
In terms of actual play, Hicks has shown that he can be a part of the future. Ellsbury, meanwhile, never lived up to his 2011 peak. Likewise, Hicks adds another dimension to his game as a switch-hitter, unlike Ellsbury’s left-handed bat.
Both of these Yankees outfielders have played four seasons in pinstripes. Hicks has been a .242/.341/.433 hitter in that time. While those are not eye-popping numbers by any means, they are still above average. Would you take that production for $10 million a year? Probably. Ellsbury, on the other hand, is a .264/.330/.386 batter with the Yanks. Would you say that’s worth $22 million a year, especially since he hasn’t been on a baseball field since the 2017 ALCS?
All in all, both of them have been injured fairly often during their years with the Yankees thus far. Hicks has landed on the IL with oblique troubles, back pain, and now elbow problems that could end his season all together. Ellsbury has been out for two straight seasons with...injuries. Sure, let’s go with that. But when you narrow down the money difference, it doesn’t make too much sense to compare Hicks’ contract with Ellsbury’s. Don’t be frightened by the amount of years Hicks has left because his AAV can make him expendable. As for Ellsbury, Yankee fans are left counting down the days.