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Yankees’ Brian Cashman sees Aaron Hicks emerging as starter

Aaron Hicks hasn’t had a productive season over a full year since 2018, but as of now, general manager Brian Cashman considers him to be the front-runner to be the regular left fielder this season — barring a trade or free-agent addition prior to Opening Day.

Cashman said Hicks is fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered during the postseason and they are hopeful he can find the form he showed before the Yankees signed him to what’s been an ill-fated seven-year, $70 million extension.

“I suspect he will be the guy that emerges [in left field] because he is still really talented and everything is there,” Cashman said Sunday on SiriusXM MLB Network Radio. “Hopefully we can get the Aaron Hicks we know is in there back as a consistent player for us.”

Oswaldo Cabrera is another candidate and Cashman once again mentioned Estevan Florial, but they are both unproven in the majors.

Aaron Hicks
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On the trade and free-agent markets, which include Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds and perhaps Minnesota’s Max Kepler, as well as the free agent Jurickson Profar, Cashman said, “We have lines out on certain opportunities. If it happens in February or March, so be it. Or we go with what we have.”

Cashman said he’s made “a lot of efforts” to acquire a lefty-swinging left fielder this offseason, but has been unable to find a fit.

As for Hicks, the 33-year-old has struggled to regain his form following surgery to repair a torn sheath in his left wrist in 2021 and has been subpar at the plate each of the last two seasons.

He was unable to retain his job in center field and once Harrison Bader came back from the foot injury late in 2022, Hicks was unable to stay on the field.

Hicks told The Post in September that he would be open to a trade if it meant getting more playing time.

“As of right now, I feel the more I play, the better I’m gonna play,” Hicks said at the time. “That’s not what’s going on right now. Things are tough in New York. I don’t have an answer. If they feel this isn’t the right fit for me, that’s their call. If I do go to another team, I know I can help them win.”

Hicks is owed a little more than $30 million over the final three years of his contract and would be able to veto any trade if he’s still a Yankee on Aug. 8, thanks to his 10-and-5 rights, which are due to kick in that day.

Players that accrue 10 years of MLB service time and have spent the past five consecutive seasons with the same team can veto any trade.

Brian Cashman
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Cashman also noted that Frankie Montas, who has been plagued by shoulder injuries consistently since July, was examined this offseason by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and received an MRI exam and other diagnostic testing and no physical issues have been revealed.

But the team opted to delay the start of his throwing program because Montas expressed some “hesitancy” about his shoulder. He will miss at least the first month of the season.

“Ultimately, we want the mind and body to be right,” Cashman said on SiriusXM MLB Network Radio.

The right-hander the Yankees acquired from the A’s prior to last August’s trade deadline struggled in eight regular-season appearances before being shut down.

“If we have any other issues [with Montas’ shoulder], I don’t know what’s next,” Cashman said.

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