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Yankees Mailbag: Aaron Hicks, selling points, and injury comparisons

The mailbag is here for another round of your questions.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, let’s dive back into the mailbag for more of your Yankees questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

MSP Giant asks: Especially in light of Hicks’s recent struggles, how do you see CF playing out over the next few years? One school of thought is Hicks will transition to a corner OF slot when Florial/Dominguez are ready for FT. Another is that the Yankees have gotten good value from this trade and to move him sooner rather than later would be OK…to trade him while his value is relatively high…live with Florial for a year or two waiting for The Martian. Thoughts?

I’m not sure how Hicks’ career arc will pan out, as there’s just so many variables in play here. He’s under contract until 2025 with a team option for 2026, and most of his value comes from being a high-OBP outfielder who can competently cover center. If he were shifted over to a corner outfield spot down the road, I’m not sure if he’d retain enough value to warrant a starting spot, though he could feasibly stick there for the final year of two of his contract since he’s not being paid exorbitantly. Brett Gardner made the same $10 million last year that Hicks would be lined up to make by that point, and the Yankees were comfortable with him holding down a roster spot as he transitioned over to fourth-outfielder status.

As for Dominguez, it’s too soon to tell just how accurate his ETA will be, but most have him pegged to arrive in 2024, just about the same timeline where Hicks could be ceding the job anyways. That gives him just three years to adjust to professional ball in the minors and debut as a 21-year-old, but if he plays as advertised, that’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

Assuming both Hicks and Dominguez follow this trajectory, there really isn’t a fit for Florial here. Outside of his one-game cameo in the absurdity that was the 2020 season, Florial has never been above High-A across six years in the organization. It’s far more likely that Dominguez passes Florial within a year or so than Florial making it to the majors to be any meaningful bridge between Hicks and Dominguez. Hicks has had an up-and-down career, but he’s likely to survive this early skid and be in the team’s plans for at least another year. By that point, unless a short-term upgrade falls into their laps, I don’t see the team moving on from him.

Steve H. asks: At what point do we begin to sell off assets? If we are .500 on July 31st and trail Tampa by 10 games would that be enough for Cashman to take offers on Judge, Gary, Torres?

Obviously, the expectations for this team are higher than a situation like this, but even if the team was in such a position nearing the trade deadline, there’s a non-zero chance that the Yankees wouldn’t sell. It took Brian Cashman finding massive surplus value in two expiring contracts for Hal Steinbrenner to sign off on selling in 2016, a year where it seemed pretty clear for awhile at that point that the team was not a contender. That was also a roster mostly built off of an aged core, whereas the current roster — whether you think they’re good enough or not — is in its prime and could theoretically bounce back from an unexpected down year.

I think it’s far too early to be talking about whether this team should be sellers or not, but if you want to be the earliest supporters for Team Sell, the only window where it could be considered is right up against the deadline. This team will be given as much rope as possible to figure things out, and more likely than not, they’ll have a run in them to get back in the standings. There just aren’t any expiring contracts that would look attractive for prospective buyers if the Yankees stay near the bottom, and selling low on players at the midseason mark seems like a recipe for poor return on investment.

Kwayne29 asks: I want to start this conversation with I’m a huge Judge fan and really thought he was the missing piece that will bring back multiple championships. Over the past 4 years I wonder and pondered injuries. Why was Bird thrown out like garbage and Judge could do no wrong when he has been off the field for various injuries? Can some one speak to me on this or this too shall pass.

Mainly because Bird’s injuries affected his play when he was on the field, whereas Judge has consistently been a top player while active. It’s definitely not ideal that Judge has missed as many games as he has in recent years, but he’s shown that the gamble on him is whether he will be in the lineup or not, as opposed to whether he can play and then whether he’ll be effective.

It’s unfortunate that Bird’s career plummeted like it has, but it’s clear that the host of injuries he sustained has left a lingering impact on his abilities even when he’s physically good to go. Even after leaving the Yankees, Bird has been unable to stick on a roster — he’s signed with the Rangers, Phillies, and Rockies since then, and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game for any of those teams. If Judge was let go at the end of the year, 29 teams would scramble to pick him up — they’re just completely different cases.