Yankees continue locking up their core, agree to seven-year extension with Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees have been surprisingly inactive on the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado markets this offseason, though they have been busy locking up their own core players.

The Yankees have signed center fielder Aaron Hicks to a seven-year contract extension with an eighth year club option, the team announced Monday morning. Multiple reports indicate the deal is worth $70 million. The contract begins this season and replaces the one-year, $6 million contract the Yankees and Hicks agreed to last month to avoid arbitration.

The Hicks extension comes two weeks after the Yankees signed staff ace Luis Severino to a four-year, $40 million contract extension with a fifth year club option. Severino was four years away from free agency, however. Hicks was scheduled to become a free agent following the 2019 season. Now he doesn't have to worry about navigating the cold free agent waters.

Hicks, 29, has emerged as one of the top center fielders in baseball the last two years, hitting .255/.368/.470 (123 OPS+) with 42 home runs and 21 steals from 2017-18. That includes a career-high 27 home runs in 2018. Here is the center field WAR leaderboard over the last two years:

  1. Mike Trout: 16.8 WAR
  2. Lorenzo Cain: 12.2 WAR
  3. Aaron Hicks: 8.6 WAR
  4. George Springer: 7.7 WAR
  5. Kevin Kiermaier: 7.6 WAR

Over the weekend Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters he believes Hicks is one of the most underrated players in the game. From George King of the New York Post:

"I think Aaron Hicks is maybe the most underrated player in the game. He is such a valuable player, playing a premium position,'' Boone said before praising the switch-hitter's plate discipline. "As good as our guys control the strike zone he is probably the poster child for it. And the ability to hit with power and the speed he brings. He is really a complete player. He has come in to his own the last couple of seasons. We want to see him healthy and when that happens we know he is an elite player.'' 

The contract length is certainly a surprise, especially given the current free agent market, but the Yankees got Hicks at a low average annual salary. Cain signed a five-year deal worth $16 million per season at age 31. Dexter Fowler signed for $16.5 million per year across five years at age 30. A few weeks ago A.J. Pollock landed $15 million annually across four year at age 31. The Yankees get Hicks at only $10 million per year from ages 29-35.

The Yankees originally acquired Hicks, the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft and once one of the top prospects in baseball, from the Twins in a one-for-one trade involving backup catcher John Ryan Murphy in November 2015. Murphy hit .146 in 26 games with Minnesota before being traded to the Diamondbacks at the 2017 trade deadline. Score that trade a big win for the Bronx Bombers.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories