Aaron Hicks Completes Yankees All-Black Outfield

Hicks signs for 7 years, $70 million, solidifying his role as centerfielder of the Yankees Soul Patrol.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone once called center fielder Aaron Hicks “possibly the most underrated player in the game.”

After signing the 29 year old to a bargain basement 7-year, $70 million deal to remain in pinstripes, the Yankees have the only All-Black outfield in baseball. The Bronx “Soul Patrol” also happens to be the best outfield in the game.

MLB hasn’t seen an outfield oozing with such Black power since the Braves had a young, budding star named Jason Heyward and the Upton Brothers roaming the outfield.

The Braves have a history of fielding all-black outfields, which is always worth a mention because it’s so rare these days.

Hicks joins Black Knights Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as elite African-American ballers and examples of baseball’s elite black star power. What better a team to quench MLB’s thirst for diversity and feature an All-Black outfield than baseball’s most visible, winningest, flagship franchise ?

We know of Stanton’s exploits. He hit 59 homers in 2017 with the Miami Marlins and won the NL MVP.

Judge just missed an MVP in his rookie-of-the-year season, slamming a record 52 homers. Only a wicked wrist injury limited him from having another dominant season in 2018.

Hicks, acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the Minnesota Twins in 2015, has been slowly developing. In 2018,  he broke out with 27 homers and a team-leading offensive WAR of 4.9.  

In fact, his WAR total rates him as the third-best center fielder in the game behind Lorenzo Cain and Mike Trout. Hicks set career highs in almost every offensive category. His .366 OBP was second on the team to Aaron Judge’s .392.

With this long-term deal inked, Hicks enters his 30’s with security and familiarity. If he continues to improve, then the Yankees made a steal of a deal. With the market as shady as it’s been, Hicks probably felt like taking the money now was the best option.

MLB owners are obviously involved in collusion efforts as many of the game’s top players including Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are still unsigned with Spring Training already underway.

Owners are trying to drive a surging market down. The recent shift in philosophy  — where franchises are now taking the position that 30-years old players aren’t worth signing to long-term free agent deals — didn’t bode well for Hicks’ future. So he decided to lock in with the biggest brand name in the game and continue to be an integral part of a potential dynasty.

“I feel like it was a fair deal on both sides,” Hicks told reporters. This is the organization I want to stay with…I want to be on this team. I feel like it has a great future. You guys know who is on this team. I think the future’s bright.”

10 days ago, Hicks’ teammate Luis Severino decided to avoid dealing with a tainted market, skip arbitration and sign a four-year extension that will delay his free agency until he is 30.

The Yankees have a bundle of young, secured talent and Hicks will play a major role in the team’s contention for World Series rings over the next five years. 

The Yankees new “Soul Patrol” has a bright future. Judge is back 100 percent healthy and Stanton is coming off a down year in which he still hit 38 bombs and carried the Yankees offensively at times  during Judge’s absence.

The Yankees lineup is loaded with right-handed boppers so a player like Hicks who can switch hit with power is invaluable.

Can’t speak for the majority of MLB teams, some of which still don’t have an African-American on the roster, but there will be no lack of diversity and flavor in the Yankees outfield this season.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.