Aaron Hicks
Does the Aaron Hicks extension mean that Estevan Florial is on his way out? #pinstripepride (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The small market New York Yankees locked up another pending free agent. Good for them. The tiny market Yankees took some tough blows this offseason after getting outbid by the Nationals for Patrick Corbin and Padres for Manny Machado. Instead, this week they locked up Luis Severino and now centerfielder Aaron Hicks.

Hicks and the Yankees agreed to a 7 year, $70 million deal. Hicks was scheduled to earn $6 million this year so the deal will add 6 years and $64 million to the contract. Hicks is a nice player. He’s a great fielder and an okay stick from the left and right side. Now that Hicks is under contract for the foreseeable future, what comes next?

Joel Sherman of the New York Post floated out an interesting thought:

“The Yankees’ top prospect is Estevan Florial, but his earliest arrival is probably 2021. Clint Frazier is not a full-time center fielder. If the Yankees had let Hicks go, they’d have to find a center fielder in 2020, with limited options and a high probability of a trade overpay.

Securing Hicks for the long term makes it easier for the Yankees to deal Florial or Frazier should a big-ticket item they like arise. Aaron Judge cannot be a free agent until after 2022, Hicks has guaranteed dollars through 2025, Giancarlo Stanton through 2027. Hicks can always follow the Gardner path as he ages out of center to a corner or — since he lacks a no-trade clause — be dealt, if say, Florial progresses. Hicks does receive $1 million additionally if traded.”

Florial is the last elite Yankees prospect in their farm system. Justus Sheffield was the other but he was dealt for James Paxton. With Hicks under contract, Florial has no spot. If the Yankees need one last piece to add to a title contender, Florial could be the prospect that gets dealt. That didn’t seem like a reality yesterday.

The Yankees clearly believe that Hicks will age well. He was a 4.7 WAR player in 2018. Hicks plays a hell of a defensive centerfield and has some serious pop with the bat adding 27 homers to his resume. Hicks is a good player. $10 million a year isn’t a super expensive contract either. Hicks has had some injuries along the way that could prove to be a bad contract down the road. You don’t want another Ellsbury on the roster.

Either way, the Yankees are now committed to Hicks moving forward. That’s bad news for Estevan Florial. Probably even worse news for Clint Frazier who likely starts the year buried in AAA again. Get used to seeing a Stanton, Hicks, and Judge starting outfield. The Yankees are all in on that trio moving forward.