In early August Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right flexor strain. Over the past several weeks the Yankees have been waiting to determine if Hicks needs Tommy John surgery or, alternatively, he’ll be able to avoid it.
They’re still waiting. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this morning that Hicks was given a recommendation to rest for a few more weeks before a final determination is made. Even if Hicks avoids surgery, all this time off means that, for all practical purposes, his season is over, as he’d not have time to ramp back up to game condition in time for even the postseason. If he does have surgery, at least the first part of the 2020 season will be lost.
It was a lost 2019 too, really. Hicks has appeared in only 59 games, hitting .235/.325/.443 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 255 plate appearances. Hicks inked a seven-year, $70 million contract extension with the Yankees back in February.
According to Athletics GM David Forst, Major League Baseball has still not informed teams whether or not the proposed three-batter-minimum rule will be in effect for the 2020 season, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The league and the players’ union came to an agreement back in March regarding a handful of rule changes with the three-batter-minimum rule among them. From the way it was discussed, it seemed like it was set in stone. If Forst is unsure, then the league clearly hasn’t done a good job of communicating that.
Slusser notes that the A’s are operating as if the rule will be in effect, as the club non-tendered lefty Ryan Buchter earlier this week. Buchter has a career 2.86 ERA with 235 strikeouts in 214 innings, but the bulk of that success has come against left-handed hitters. This past season 115 of the 198 total plate appearances (58 percent) against Buchter were taken by fellow lefties. He held lefties to a .728 OPS compared to .904 against righties. As a result, despite Buchter’s overall terrific numbers, the A’s felt the roster spot could be more effectively used with a different player given the proposed rule.
Some teams may not make the same assumption as the A’s. What if a team keeps its lefty specialist(s) on the roster or goes out and acquires such a player, not knowing whether or not the rule is in effect for the upcoming season?
Since it has been brought up publicly, the issue will likely be resolved quickly and we should all have clarity on the rules for the 2020 season.