The Yankees could get an important piece back prior to their upcoming ALCS matchup against either the Astros or the Rays. Center fielder Aaron Hicks, out since early August due to a flexor strain in his right elbow, tells Mark Didtler of the Associated Press that he is “definitely” ready to return to the lineup. Hicks adds that he’s been facing live pitching, throwing to bases and “pretty much doing everything” in terms of baseball activities.
The Yankees haven’t made any formal decision on Hicks’ status and presumably won’t announce their ALCS roster until this weekend. That said, a healthy Hicks would be a defensive boost for the Yankees, who have been playing a potentially less-than-100-percent Giancarlo Stanton in left field after he missed nearly the entire season due to injury. Hicks could conceivably push Cameron Maybin off the Yankees’ roster in the next round, though Maybin certainly helped his cause with last night’s late home run after replacing Stanton for defensive purposes. Tyler Wade and Luke Voit, meanwhile, both made the Yankees’ ALDS roster but did not make a plate appearance in the team’s three-game sweep of the Twins.
Hicks, who turned 30 last week, signed a seven-year, $70MM contract with the Yankees in Spring Training (six years and $64MM in new money), but a back injury landed him on the injured list to open the season. Between that back issue and the more recent flexor strain, the switch-hitting Hicks was limited to 59 games and 255 plate appearances, during which time he hit .235/.325/.443 with a dozen home runs. That translated to roughly league-average offensive production (102 wRC+, 103 OPS+) but was also a far cry from the combined .255/.368/.470 slash he posted from 2017-18.
The Yankees placed Hicks on the 60-day injured list in September, so they’d have to make a corresponding 40-man roster move if they decide to activate Hicks for the next round of play. That could likely be achieved by moving Mike Tauchman to the 60-day injured list in his place, though. Tauchman suffered a Grade 2 calf strain that was expected to sideline him for up to eight weeks just under a month ago.