Yankees fuel Orioles’ ascent, fund $27 million to create new Nemesis

Former Yankees player Aaron Hicks is playing for the Baltimore Orioles.

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On Sunday, the Yankees faced a challenging 5-2 defeat in the series final against the Cardinals, with their former player Jordan Montgomery proving to be their nemesis. Back in the Bronx, the Yankees are starting a four-game homestand against the Orioles on Monday. However, they are funding their opponents to become more competitive by footing the salary bill of ex-Yankee Aaron Hicks, who has been experiencing a resurgence with the Orioles and might become another nemesis for the Yankees during the series.

When the Yankees released Aaron Hicks, they still had financial obligations amounting to approximately $27 million over the next three years. This was a result of the seven-year, $70 million contract extension he had signed in February 2019. At the time of his release, Aaron Hicks was owed around $27.6 million, including the remainder of his $10.5 million salary for the current year, as well as salaries of $9.5 million for each of the next two seasons.

Aaron Hicks’ contract with the Orioles initially had a value of $720,000. However, due to certain adjustments, his salary with the team has been reduced to $480,000. This sum might seem modest considering his recent contributions to the Orioles. The Yankees are indirectly supporting their opponents by covering the salary of Aaron Hicks,

Monday’s game will mark Aaron Hicks’ first return to Yankee Stadium since the Yankees designated him for assignment in May. The veteran outfielder, donning a full beard, will be in the visiting dugout with the Orioles, showcasing a distinctive feature that was synonymous with the Yankees’ image.

Yankees’ loss, Baltimore’s gain

In the 2023 season, Aaron Hicks played 28 games for the Yankees, primarily starting in left field and center field. However, his performance fell short of expectations, as he ended with a batting average of .188, hitting only one home run and driving in five runs in 76 plate appearances. Throughout his 11-year career in the Major Leagues, Aaron Hicks has maintained a career batting average of .230.

Aaron Hicks is in a refreshing mood during the Yankees spring training and after failing to hit against the Phillies on April 4, 2023.

Due to his limited production and frequently being plagued by injuries, Aaron Hicks became a target of criticism from Yankees fans. As a result, the Yankees made the decision to release him on May 20. The Orioles signed him on May 30.

Just a few days after his Yankees release, Aaron Hicks found a new opportunity with the Orioles, who had recently placed Cedric Mullins on the injured list. Hicks, a switch-hitting outfielder, has been performing well with the Orioles, boasting a .260 batting average and a .861 OPS. He has hit four home runs and driven in 11 runs in 92 plate appearances.

This week, the Yankees will face Aaron Hicks for the first time since his move to Baltimore when the Orioles visit the Bronx. It will be an interesting matchup for the Yankees, as they will have to contend with a resurgent Aaron Hicks, whose salary is indirectly funded by themselves but is now aiding the Orioles against his former team.

Source: Baseball Reference

Aaron Hicks happy to be in Baltimore

The signing of Aaron Hicks by the Orioles presented a fresh opportunity for him to rejuvenate his career and make meaningful contributions to a team that has exceeded expectations this season. Currently, the Orioles hold an impressive 34-20 record, positioning them second in the AL East, trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by just four games.

“I wanted to be that guy,” Aaron Hicks said at Camden Yards this weekend. “A guy that consistently produced every single year.”

After joining the Baltimore Orioles, Aaron Hicks wasted no time making an impact. In his first game with the Orioles on May 31, he showcased his skills by collecting two hits. This marked the beginning of a 16-game stretch where the ex-Yankees player went 16-for-51 at the plate, including three doubles, a triple, and three home runs in 60 plate appearances. His outstanding performance during this period resulted in an impressive OPS of 1.005.

Aaron Hicks is in the Orioles colors at Baltimore.

When asked about his success, Aaron Hicks credited the hitting coaches in Baltimore for their influence on his swing and mindset. According to him, they emphasized the importance of standing taller during his swing and helped him shift his approach at the plate. Their guidance enabled him to regain his belief and confidence, focusing on the little details and understanding that making solid contact was all he could control. In contrast, during his time with the Yankees, Aaron Hicks felt the pressure of knowing that a lack of hits would often lead to being benched the following day.

With his wealth of experience and defensive prowess, the former Yankees player brings valuable contributions to the Orioles’ outfield. As Baltimore continues their successful season, Aaron Hicks’ addition provides them with increased depth and various options in the outfield. Whether he becomes a regular starter or a complementary piece, Aaron Hicks has the opportunity to positively impact the team and potentially secure a more permanent role moving forward.

Hicks reveals the reason for his slump during the Yankees tenure

According to Aaron Hicks, he doesn’t harbor much regret when reflecting on his time with the Yankees, except for his struggle to stay healthy. He believes that his inability to maintain good health was the primary reason why he couldn’t justify his contract.

Aaron Hicks admitted that two major injuries inhibited his Yankees career. He had a right elbow injury in 2019 that necessitated Tommy John surgery and a left wrist procedure in 2021, which limited his playing time to only 32 games.

During his later years with the Yankees, Aaron Hicks experienced restricted playing time, prompting him to publicly contemplate whether he would fare better in a different team. Following his departure from the Yankees, discussions with the Orioles commenced almost immediately.

Aaron Hicks emphasized the importance of achieving consistent playing time over an extended period, stating, “You want to get to the point of playing consistently for two months, and that’s what I’m getting here.”

But he doesn’t appear to be out to prove that the Yankees made a mistake by releasing him.

“No, because they made a decision for them,’’ Hicks said. “And now I’m happy with the situation I’m in. It would be dumb to be mad.”

According to him, the Yankees made it evident that they favored players like Oswaldo Cabrera and prospects such as Jake Bauers, leading to their decision to part ways with him. However, Cabrera has not fulfilled expectations as a regular player, while Bauers has had some clutch hits but struggled defensively. On the other hand, Hicks has found a welcoming environment with the Orioles and has been given consistent playing time. He currently boasts a .260 batting average with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 25 games. Following his release, Aaron Hicks has significantly improved his performance, as evidenced by his .861 OPS with the Orioles compared to a .524 OPS during his time with the Yankees.

Aaron Hicks is curious about the reception he will receive in The Bronx when playing against the Yankees as a member of another team. He assumes it will be a “mixed” reception, which is an improvement compared to how it was during his final years with the Yankees.

The Orioles hold the belief that the Yankees prematurely gave up on Aaron Hicks. He is relishing the opportunity to play regularly once again after questioning whether he would be better off playing for a team other than the Yankees.

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