The Buy Low Window Has Closed For Hicks
Yesterday afternoon, I turned off the Phillies/Twins spring training game after Aaron Hicks‘ second home run of the game. At the time, I assumed the fireworks display was over and had a couple of late meetings for work. When I learned Hicks had hit three home runs, my first thought was contentment knowing I own him in the FanGraphs Experts League. My second was the waiver wire rush about to ensue.
Entering the spring, I was excited about Hicks for three reasons.
- He fits the “prospect hangover” profile of a player who was ranked highly, but has slipped due to unspectacular production in the minors.
- Players who do a little bit of everything, but excel at nothing are often undervalued in fantasy leagues.
- He has a path to playing time in Minnesota with the trades of Revere and Span.
As of this morning, reason one is no longer an option given his .407/.393/.926 start to the spring. If anything, Hicks’ hot start will make him an early favorite for American League ROY. This may be a bit premature though.
For a rookie to start from day one, not only is deriving opportunity from the organizational depth chart important, but assessing their motivation is as well. The Twins have little in the way of legit center fielders standing in Hicks’ way leaving few rookies with a clearer path to the Major Leagues. However, why would the Twins opt to accelerate his timetable? I have absolutely no idea.
Let’s face it. The Twins stink. A .500 record would be an accomplishment after losing Ben Revere and Denard Span via trade. One might point to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as examples of center fielders who made an impact from day one and should have been in the opening day lineup, but cherry picking a pair of historical outliers seems silly. Plus, Hicks isn’t on their level in terms of talent anyway.
Darin Mastroianni is also hanging around as a 27-year old entering his prime years. He’s certainly nothing special, but was worth 1.5 WAR in less than 200 plate appearances driven by strong defense and walk rates. On a good team, he’s a borderline 4/5 outfielder, but seems capable of keeping the seat warm for Hicks while he adds the finishing touches in Rochester.
From a financial standpoint, the Twins still have their “face of the franchise” in Joe Mauer, as well as first baseman Justin Morneau. Had the Twins committed to a Marlins-like fire sale over the winter, then I would understand wanting to anoint Hicks as the Twins future and market him to the hilt. That didn’t happen.
of course the most obvious elephant in the room is losing a year of control at a time when the team is adding players for a run in 2015 and beyond. At present, the Twins have a deep and talented minor league system. However, most of their prospects are at the lower levels AND I’ve never known them to rush players through.
If anything, the Twins will look to shop Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit and others at the trade deadline to bring in more prospects and continue the rebuilding process. I’m 99.9% sure Hicks will be the Twins starting center fielder at some point in 2013, but would be surprised if he wins the job outright. With little motivation to push him into the spotlight, it makes sense to give Hicks a couple of months in Triple-A and keep him in Minnesota for as long as possible.
From a fantasy standpoint, Hicks is no longer worth acquiring via trade as the cost would be prohibitive — Especially in single season leagues. Paying a premium AND assuming the risk of his not accumulating 600 plate appearances is not worth it when Angel Pagan can be had for your fantasy depth.
In dynasty formats, this isn’t as much of an issue, but dedicated owners who have held onto Hicks for years are unlikely to part with him now that the lottery ticket is about to pay off.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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