The Los Angeles Angels announced on Monday morning that they have signed veteran outfielder Aaron Hicks to a one-year contract. It is a Major League deal, giving the Angels a bit of a positional battle as they enter Spring Training in just a few weeks.
Hicks has been in the Majors since 2013, when he debuted with the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day as a 23-year-old outfielder. Hicks struggled in his rookie campaign, but steadily improved over his next three seasons, finishing his time with the Twins by posting a league average 98 OPS+ in his third Major League campaign.
In November of 2015, Hicks was traded from the Twins to the New York Yankees, where he would spend the next seven and a half seasons as a regular starter. His time with the Yankees was undoubtedly uneven. There were the good years, namely 2017 and 2018. He posted OPS’ of .847 and .833 in those seasons, respectively, with career-high 122 and 127 OPS+ figures.
But there were also lean years with Hicks in the Bronx. He posted a .642 OPS in 130 games in 2022. In fact, between 2019 and 2023 with the Yankees, he never got close to an .800 OPS all while taking a major dip defensively, according to Baseball Reference’s defensive runs saved statistic.
On May 26, the Yankees finally parted ways with Hicks, but it didn’t take long for him to find a landing spot with an American League East rival in the Baltimore Orioles.
In Baltimore, Hicks discovered a newfound rhythm at the plate. He posted an .806 OPS — 127 OPS+ — in 65 games with the Orioles while playing multiple outfield positions. He hit a home run in the ALDS against the eventual world champion Texas Rangers.
What Aaron Hicks addition means for Angels
Because Hicks’ deal with the Angels is a Major League contract, L.A. is now slated to bring five MLB outfielders into Spring Training: Mike Trout, Taylor Ward, Mickey Moniak, Jo Adell and Hicks. MLB teams usually carry four outfielders when they get to the regular season, meaning one of these five is not likely to make it through the Spring in Anaheim.
Trout is completely safe, as is Ward likely. The real battle is between Moniak, Adell and Hicks. Moniak had, by far, his best season as a pro with the Angels in 2023, but he is the only one of the three with minor league options remaining. But no one is under more pressure than Adell.
Adell is out of minor league options and has yet to show the type of growth that was promised from someone who used to be one of baseball’s most highly-touted prospects. He needs to have a remarkable spring to vault himself over Hicks or Moniak.