While the Yankees are eager to keep their superstar leader a free hand, New York is reportedly hoping to part ways with two veterans who struggled in pinstripes this season.
Corresponding Joel Sherman of the New York PostThe Yankees will “work hard” to “get rid of” third baseman Josh Donaldson and outfielder Aaron Hicks this offseason.
Donaldson, who was acquired last spring in a deal with the Twins with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Gary Sánchez, is expected to make $21 million in 2023. He had a tremendous defensive campaign in the hot corner in 2022 — third baseman should have been nominated for a Gold Glove Award — but his offensive numbers were a letdown and his presence generated more controversy than chemistry.
Hicks, who signed a massive $70 million extension ahead of the 2019 season, is still under contract through at least the 2025 season. As of now, he will make $10.5 million in 2023, $29.5 million over the next three years (with a $1 million trade attribution bonus and a $1 million buyout linked with his club option connected for the 2026 campaign). The outfielder had his moments and finally stayed healthy this year (until the postseason), but his dips were extensive and the boos at Yankee Stadium were Joey Gallo-esque.
In other words, it will be extremely difficult to find a trading partner willing to take on these contracts. Unless a team wants to jeopardize Donaldson’s defense and track record or Hicks’ plate discipline self-proclaimed potential For a 30-30 season, New York will struggle to find a team interested in those assets.
It is possible that another club will retaliate with their own heavy contract. Sherman brought up the likes of Nationals starter Patrick Corbin and Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner. New York would be offloading positional players while adding an aging arm that they could potentially adapt to their talented staff. Still, the Yankees must seriously consider simply cutting ties and incurring the costs associated with one or both of these players.
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There’s also an argument for keeping them. Once again, Donaldson had an exemplary season on defense — a big reason New York was baseball’s best team on defensive runs that year — and as he began to heat up on offense, there were flashes of his strong past. Can the racquet bounce back in 2023, his 37-year season? Owner Hal Steinbrenner seems to think so.
As for Hicks, New York can keep him as a backup outfielder. Keep in mind that there is still a gaping hole in left field in this club’s squad at the moment. All signs point to the Yankees attacking the open market this winter. You can try to bring Andrew Benintendi back, sign Japanese superstar Masataka Yoshida or get someone else Outfield players like Brandon Nimmo. Otherwise, right now you’re looking at a mix of Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera in left field for the Yankees.
Speaking of rebounds, here’s what Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said about Hicks during his season-ending press conference earlier this month.
“He will be well again” said Cashman, dodging a follow-up on the possibility of Hicks being transferred this winter. “He’s under contract. He will come back and try to retake and earn a position and a place that we can count on. He has the ability, we just haven’t been able to use it consistently over the past year and I know he was frustrated with that.”
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