Fans all across the AL East can attest: Aaron Hicks is a wild card. On Monday, Hicks and the Angels agreed to a one-year deal at the league minimum salary of $740,000 (while the Yankees still pay a chunk of his salary following last spring's DFA). Given Hicks' struggles throughout his eight years with the Yankees, Angels fans should be relieved that the team wasn't forced to give him more, but also have good reason to be a little afraid about how he'll look in LA this year.
He played in 65 games for the Orioles in 2023 after Cedric Mullins went down with an injury, and he took the league minimum to play there after being booted by the Yankees. He looked a little better over those games, hitting better than he has in years and even getting a few productive at-bats in the postseason. Maybe it was the relief of leaving New York and thousands of booing Yankee fans behind. This improvement could be what the Angels were banking on when they signed him.
However, Hicks and the Angels seem to have gotten their wires crossed when it comes to how much playing time he'll actually get in 2024. On Tuesday, speaking to the media after the signing became official, Hicks said that the team told him he'd be an everyday player in the outfield and at DH. That very same day, he walked back those comments, saying that he meant he was only preparing to be an everyday player. Ruh-roh.
Aaron Hicks might've overestimated how much playing time he'll get with LA Angels after signing
The Angels have no shortage of outfielders. If Mike Trout is ready to go by Opening Day, he'll have center field locked down. Taylor Ward and Mickey Moniak are currently expected to fill the rest of the outfield spots, and Brandon Drury is expected to DH. It's interesting that Hicks, making league minimum, would expect to immediately come into the organization as an everyday player rather than a bench piece, which could be along the lines of what was communicated to him after he took back his comments about starting.
No doubt Hicks will get some opportunities to prove those booing Yankees fan wrong, but it's highly unlikely that he will (or should) be in the lineup on Opening Day. Trout is becoming more injury-prone as he's getting older, so it seems most likely that Hicks will come in when the Angels want to give Trout a rest, or maybe shuffle Drury to first base. Either way, the Angels should want to ease Hicks in slowly, given his not-so-stellar track record over his past few seasons, and not immediately throw him into the mix.