Angels Sign Veteran Outfielder

LA Angels Roster Transactions | Inside The Diamonds

The Angels have signed veteran outfielder Aaron Hicks to a one-year deal. Since the New York Yankees released Hicks last year, the Angels will only pay the prorated $740 thousand league minimum salary if he is on the major league roster, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The Angels also DFA’d reliever Kolton Ingram to clear a roster spot for Hicks, according to The Athletic’s Sam Blum.

When the Yankees released him in late May of last season, Hicks was hitting a disappointing .188 with a .524 OPS. The 34-year-old signed with the Baltimore Orioles a few days later and bounced back, hitting .275 with a .806 OPS in the 68 games he appeared in the rest of the season. Hicks’ 2023 totals came out to .253/.353/.383 with a .735 OPS and 106 OPS+ in 93 games played. The switch-hitting veteran has been better from the right side of the plate his whole career, but it was especially apparent in 2023, hitting .223 with a .663 OPS as a lefty and .349 with a .970 OPS as a righty. One thing that Hicks did in 2023 that could help the Angels is his success with runners in scoring position. Hicks hit .274 with a .852 OPS with runners in scoring position, whereas the Angels were one of the worst teams in baseball with runners in scoring position, hitting .236 with a .705 OPS.

Throughout his career, Hicks has had an elite walk rate while striking out at an average clip. Hicks has a career K% of 21.5 (MLB average is 21.8) and a career BB% of 12.7 (MLB average is 8.3). His 2023 totals came out to 22.1 K% and 13.5 BB%. Hicks draws such an elite walk rate because he is not an aggressive hitter. In 2023, his Zone Swing% was 61.2 (MLB average is 67.0), Chase% was 20.9 (MLB average is 28.5), 1st Pitch Swing% was 22.1 (MLB average 29.6), and his Meatball Swing% was 69.6 (MLB average is 76.1), according to Baseball Savant. Hicks’ lack of aggressiveness could be a factor in his lack of power. In the Statcast Era (since 2015), Hicks has a career Barrel% of 6.3 and has only had a barrel rate above league average (6.9%) four times. Another factor could be health. Hicks has only appeared in 100 games or more just three times in his 11-year career. 

Defensively, Hicks will not provide much. He has been mediocre to slightly below average his whole career, and with him now entering his mid-30s, it is hard to imagine his defense will improve much. Hicks is primarily a center fielder, but he split time at all three outfield positions in 2023. This will be important if he cracks the Angels’ roster out of spring training because with Mike Trout’s health becoming a concern, the Angels could make Trout the DH from time to time to lighten his workload, and either Hicks or Mickey Moniak can man center field while the other plays in right. 

If Hicks can continue the success he found in Baltimore, this could be a solid fourth outfielder signing for the Angels. What this also does is put Jo Adell in a tough situation. Adell is out of options, so he will either be on the Angels roster or in a different organization completely. General Manager Perry Minasian has not yet said what the plan is with Adell, whether they try to find a trade partner, release him, or make spring training his tryout with Hicks. It will more than likely be the latter. 

Jack Janes

Journalism major at the University of La Verne. Played college baseball at Fullerton College and the University of La Verne. Also write for Inside The Rink.

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