Thursday, June 11, 2015

By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer -

One way to avoid getting fleeced in the trade deadline market is to make a trade with another team that is in contention.

Currently the Twins are in the lead to win the AL Central Division based on current standings. Notably FanGraphs’ End of Season projections show the Twins totally out of the playoffs based on their current roster composition.

You have to believe that sooner, rather than later, the Twins are likely to call up prized prospect Byron Buxton to man center field. This would potentially leave OF Aaron Hicks without an everyday position.

Hicks, who is 25 ½ years old, is a switch-hitter with a  Minor League slash line, over 8 seasons, of .275/.379/.427 with a 14.5% walk rate and a 19.6% strikeout rate.

Aaron would be an interesting option to hit lead-off for the Angels. He has speed but would probably need to be more selective in his stolen base opportunities in the Majors as he has a Minor League career stolen base rate of 69%.

Notably Hicks has shown steady improvement in developing a line drive approach (His MiLB Line Drive rate is 16.4% and his MLB Line Drive rate is 20.2%). To date, since 2011, his MLB results have been marred by a low .268 BABIP compared to a .333 rate in the Minors.

Perhaps the most important number in Aaron’s statistics is the fact that since 2011 his Minor League OBP has been nearly identical (.370 vs. LHP, .371 vs. RHP) from both sides of the plate. Even if you feel he won’t fully translate those numbers to the Majors, a .340+ OBP is still above average.

Hicks’ is controllable through the 2019 season and won’t enter arbitration until the 2017 season. That is four years of team control after 2015. His estimated total salary over his remaining controllable time is approximately $20MM-$25MM.

Acquiring Aaron Hicks would have some risk built in as he has not fully acclimated and developed himself at the Major League level. However taking an above average center fielder and putting him in left field would deepen our outfield defense significantly.

As a less expensive option he could potentially provide a spark plug effect to the top of the lineup allowing other hitters like Calhoun, Trout, and Pujols to hit in the 2-3-4 spots where we need increased production.

A one-for-one trade is possible here with the Twins but unlikely. It would probably require two pieces from our side where we send someone like Grant Green plus a reliever like Danny Reynolds back to Minnesota.

Adding Hicks would only increase payroll, at best, by approximately $500K.
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