Coppola: Hicks and Not Harper

By William Coppola

A funny thing happened yesterday in Tampa, Florida. The Yankees signed Aaron Hicks to a seven-year, $70 million contract extension with a club option for the 2026 season. The deal replaces Hicks’ one-year, $6 million contract for ’19 that was previously announced on Jan. 11. Not many of us saw that coming.
With all the talk of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper this off season, there was a tendency to miss what you have had all around you. That is, good players who won’t cost you a boatload of money.
Before Hicks came to the Yankees, he was looked at as another young player that just couldn’t live up to being a first round pick (Minnesota 2008). He struggled for nine years from the minors through his call-ups to the big leagues. A big solid body with power from both sides of the plate. Plus an accurate cannon for an arm, he has always been a scouts ‘KM’ (Can’t Miss). Why he had trouble figuring it out until last year is a guess. It was no surprise to see Minnesota gave up on him.
But  Yankees GM Brian Cashman must see something in Hicks. To give a 29- year old outfielder, who has struggled, an extension like this, one that will take him to age 36, is putting a lot of faith in him, even if he was coming off of his best season his only good one.
Some guys get out of the gate fast and then coast while others take a little more time to figure it out. Let’s just hope that last year for Hicks is a look at what lies ahead. But $70 million? Guess the Yankees sold a lot of those ‘Chicken and Waffle sliders’ last year.
Question: Does this mean that Cashman is done with his outfield? Aaron Judge in right field, Hicks in center and Gardner or Giancarlo Stanton in left. No Harper? No Mike Trout in 2021? Are the Yankees rolling the dice with Hicks? I don’t think so. Forget the $12.5 million club option for 2026, with a $1 million buyout, and a $2 million signing bonus. Hicks will be paid $10.5 million annually from 2020-23, and $9.5 million from 2024-25.
That means he will not be that difficult to trade straight up and not be a big contract to eat if another big name outfielder becomes available.
That being said, this was a good move by both the Yankees and Hicks. It looks to be beneficial for both parties. Just one thing that still keeps creeping into my head, why did the Yankees not go after Harper? An outfield of Judge, Harper and Stanton with Hicks as the center fielder when any one of those monsters DH is one line-up pitchers would have nightmares over. But looks like that is not going to happen.
Speaking of line-ups, with only Hicks and Bret Gardner hitting from the left side, a left right, left right line-up can’t happen. Harper anyone? And why does the brain trust in the Yankees organization insist on batting Judge second? I would like to see Miguel Andujar bat second behind Hicks. Andujar had 170 hits 47 of those were doubles plus 27 HR’s. All in 149 games.
Along with Hicks, they could give Judge two chances to drive in a run instead of one.
I know, they won 100 games last year with Judge batting second and him only playing 112 games. But another funny thing happened albeit last year, the Red Sox won 108 games and another World Series. Kind of interesting that the Yankees don’t seem to be panicking.
I mean really, what are the chances the Sox can win 108 again this year? Then again, what are the chances the Yankees will win 100?
WILLIAM COPPOLA IS A CONTRIBUTING SPORTS COLUMNIST WITH THE BRONX CHRONICLE WITH EMPHASIS ON BASEBALL AS A FORMER PLAYER, UMPIRE, COACH, AND SCOUTING
  
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