MLB: This player is out of a job because of Oswaldo Cabrera’s great defense

Frederlin Castro

Aaron Hicks’ problems have been so acute and have lasted so much so that Venezuelan Oswaldo Cabrera is starting in left field as a substitute for the injured Andrew Benintendi, even though he had never played in the outfield at any level until a few days before his first major league call-up on September 1.

It seems like so long ago since Hicks had his breakout season in 2018, hitting .248 with 27 home runs, 79 RBIs, 10 steals, 90 walks and a .467 on-base percentage in 138 games. Hicks was considered to be one of the best center fielders in the game. The Yankees responded with a long commitment and then a seven-year, $70 million contract extension.

The Yankees’ big bet hasn’t paid off so far. From 2019-21, Hicks was often slowed down by injuries, and when he did play his contributions were infrequent. His 2022 season has been his worst.

a new role

The 32-year-old Hicks is hitting .223 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and 10 steals in 126 games. Now with Oswaldo Cabrera showing he’s part of the future, the Yankees may move Hicks in the offseason. A change of scenery won’t be easy to come by, because Hicks is still guaranteed $30.5 million through 2025, not counting a club option for 2026 that almost certainly won’t be exercised.

“Cabrera is playing very well. He’s been a huge part of our offense and I know the kind of season I’ve had, so I can’t be upset about someone coming in and starting out like that. Cabrera is an incredible rookie. He is an athlete. I’m happy for Cabrera. He is a great guy and a great ballplayer,” Hicks said in an interview with NJ Advance Media.

Cabrera has been an extraordinary defensive player since he started playing outfield. and much of it is due to the work he has done with Hicks.

“I’ve spent time with Cabrera. We were talking before the first game in Toronto, his first time playing there. We talked about the grass. He wanted to know what the big jumps were like, what the corners were like. I told him which way to go, about everything when you hit the ball down the line, how it’s going to be. I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to help Cabrera figure out how to play the best left field possible. We want to win, and if he’s going to play left field, I’m the guy who has to tell him exactly what’s going to happen because I’ve played left field. I have to do everything I can to help him be successful.”

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MLB: This player is out of a job because of Oswaldo Cabrera’s great defense