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The Yankees aren’t sure they can rely on Aaron Hicks any longer. That could push New York to make a big bid on Starling Marte in free agency.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman makes no secret of his club’s need to find a new starting shortstop in free agency. The more interesting news coming out of his recent comments to the media is that finding a new starting center fielder might be just as high a priority for the team this offseason.
The team hopes that Aaron Hicks can find a way to stay healthy in 2021 but the unfortunate reality is that he’s only managed to play 145 games over the last three seasons due to a variety of injuries. Expecting him to shoulder the load of being the everyday centerfielder next season would be more of a wish than a plan for the Yankees.
The uncertainty around Hicks is precisely why Cashman claims he will “evaluate all opportunities” regarding the outfield position ahead of Opening Day. A trade for a new center fielder is always a possibility, but dipping into free agency for a new solution would be the cleaner type of transaction.
Yankees rumors: Starling Marte makes so much sense
There are a number of big-name shortstops on the open market this offseason, but the class of center fielders available to teams is remarkably thin. Marte is, by far, the top option in this year’s class.
The Yankees might be hesitant to commit a big contract to a 33-year-older who depends heavily on speed, but Marte’s outstanding production over the last few seasons should quell a lot of those concerns. The only center fielders with higher WAR than Marte over the last four seasons are George Springer and Mike Trout. In short, the Yankees could give Marte a lucrative deal and still deal with a reasonable amount of age-related regression without getting burned by the contract.
It’s possible another team could beat the Yankees to the punch with Marte if they’re willing to make him the centerpiece to their offseason plans. New York probably isn’t going to rush in with an offer that blows away the competition. If Marte’s market doesn’t take off right away, look for the Yankees to pounce when they believe the time is right.