What are the San Diego Padres doing this offseason? After having sent both Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to New York this winter, it's imperative that San Diego finds a way to upgrade the outfield. But on Monday, another potential free agent target came off the board, and the Padres' search for outfield help continues.
The Los Angeles Angels decided to take advantage of Aaron Hicks' contract situation and signed the former Yankees outfielder to a one-year deal on Monday. Hicks is still under the seven-year, $70 million deal he signed with New York, meaning outside of the major league minimum, the Yankees will be footing the bill for Hicks in 2024.
The Padres have made it apparent this winter that they're looking to upgrade the roster through low-cost moves. The major league minimum is as low cost as you're going to get. Why didn't the Friars take a closer look at Hicks?
Padres missed outfield upgrade after Aaron Hicks signs with LA Angels
Hicks' numbers with the Yankees last season were mind-numbing. The switch-hitter hit just .188/.263/.261 before the Bronx Bombers decided enough was enough and released Hicks last May. But the Baltimore Orioles gave Hicks another chance. The 33-year-old hit .275/.381/.425 for the O's, and against left-handed pitching last season Hicks posted a .970 OPS.
While this shrewd signing courtesy of Perry Minasian and the Angels front office isn't a massive success, it's a low-risk move that adds depth to the Halos' roster and gives the team a platoon option who can play alongside Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell.
That's exactly why this move would've made sense for the Padres. Outside of Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego has little to no experience among their current crop of outfielders. José Azocar has all of 153 major league games under his belt and a .633 OPS.
Tatis and Azocar are the only outfielders on the Padres 40-man roster. Unless the Padres make a major league signing before the club reports to spring training next month, the Friars will enter Cactus League play with a slew of non-roster invitees competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
There's still time for Preller to improve the Padres outfield ahead of the team's arrival in Peoria. Players like Eddie Rosario, Randal Grichuk, and Adam Duvall are still available in free agency, but it feels like Hicks might've been the best option for what the team needs right now.