What to do with Luke Voit?

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Now that the Yankees have brought Anthony Rizzo back into the fold, Luke Voit looks like the odd man out. Rizzo will be the team’s starting first baseman, and the designated hitter role will be (mostly) occupied by Giancarlo Stanton. Voit’s been no stranger to trade rumors since last July, when the Yankees first acquired Rizzo, and yet, the Yankees haven’t pulled the trigger just yet.

There hasn’t been a peep about Voit in the rumor mill lately, either. At least, nothing linking another team to him. That could be by design because anything concerning the Yankees rarely leaks. Someone usually reports a deal, and then boom, it’s official not long after. Or, perhaps in this instance, the Yankees are intent on keeping Voit in the fold.

The case for keeping him

Depth. All it takes is one injury for Voit to find his way back into the starting lineup. If an outfielder gets hurt, Giancarlo Stanton could see more time in the outfield, thereby opening up the DH spot for Voit more regularly. Or, if Stanton goes down, Voit takes the job as needed. Moreover, if something happens to Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu is needed elsewhere, better that Voit steps in rather than non-roster invitee Ronald Guzmán.

Additionally, with the expanded postseason, I fully expect the Yankees to lean (further) in to load management. That means more days off for…everyone. It’s not out of the realm that Voit could find himself in the starting lineup more than half the time in any given week.

As currently constructed, there should be plenty of pinch hit opportunities. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa and either Kyle Higashioka or Ben Rortvedt rounding out the eighth and ninth spots in the starting lineup, the Yankees will need a pinch hitter in high leverage situations. Enter Voit. Or, if there’s a tough lefty reliever in to face Rizzo or Joey Gallo, Voit could step in too.

All told, it’s not hard to fathom Voit accumulating 400 plate appearances this season, even if he doesn’t have a clear cut role. Granted, he needs to stay healthy, which hasn’t always been easy for him, but the point is: it’s not as if there’s zero playing time left for him.

His trade value is low. First basemen and designated hitters typically don’t fetch much in trades, and I assume that remains the case even with the universal DH here. In yesterday’s chat, a lot of folks asked about including Voit in deals for a starting pitcher, which just isn’t realistic. The Yankees probably can’t get much more than salary relief and/or a low level prospect in return for Voit. He’s a one dimensional player who’s had a lot of trouble staying healthy in two of the three last seasons. Yes, Voit is a terrific hitter when healthy, but he really doesn’t offer much else.

He has minor league options remaining. It would be an incredible slap in the face to actually option Voit to the minors, but yeah, it’s something the Yankees could do if they wanted or needed to make a roster move.

The case for trading him

He can’t be happy. I mean, I wouldn’t be if the manager said this…

…two days before the team signed Rizzo. But to Voit’s credit, he’s focusing on staying healthy and positive:

I don’t expect Voit to vent to the media or demand a trade, but parting ways would be the right thing to do by him. Sort of like what the front office did with Gary Sánchez, who needed a change of scenery. Of course, there are benefits in keeping him around as I previously cited, but he’s also more than capable of being an everyday player (if healthy) elsewhere.

DJ LeMahieu can be the backup first baseman and late game pinch hitter. Just about everything I noted as a reason to keep Voit can also apply to LeMahieu. He can be Rizzo’s backup at first base. He can also pinch hit for IKF and one of the catchers late in games. Not to mention Gleyber Torres, who could also pinch hit if DJLM starts at second base instead.

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12 Comments

  1. The Original Drew

    I am sure the 20 year old that they got for him will be ready just in time for Cole age 37 season.

  2. I think they will trade him for a pitching prospect, most likely a high school draftee who was either a 1st or 2nd round pick within the past 2 years

  3. IIRC, Voit was pretty terrible when he wasn’t playing regularly last season. Tons of Ks and DPs. Maybe it was the injuries, though.

  4. MikeD

    History says Cashman will hold him until he can get back the right player in return. Normally, an unappreciated reliever arm who will suddenly be getting big outs for the Yankees would be a prime target. Yankees however have probably too many arms for the pen at the moment. By my last count, one of the group will need to be optioned or traded. Vaguely surprised Abreu hasn’t been moved yet. More likely, Ctashman will trade Voit for an interesting arm in the minors. Think of a Jake Cave-for-Luis Gil type trade several years back. Cave was a minor leaguer, while Voit is a productive MLB hitter, so it’s not a clean comparison, but I suspect that what his team is doing. They’ve identified the clubs who can use Voit and they’re identifying some interesting high-A, or AA arms that can help them in a couple years.

  5. HenryKrinkle

    I’d rather squeeze Andujar on this roster than Voit. But someone will get hurt on this roster or others, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more get hurt with this rushed Spring Training. And if you can’t find a partner, send him down. That’s why options exist, and the new CBA didn’t change that.

  6. Terry from LA

    Keep Luke! Trade Hal!

    • John

      Yes. Let’s do the rare crosstown trade – Hal for Steve. Might have to throw in some prospects, it’s not exactly a fair swap straight up.

  7. They should keep him. He’s a much better all around hitter than Anthony Rizzo. Depth is necessary . I’d rather see him as the first baseman , but depth is his role now. Between Stanton who is more of an injury liability than any on the team and in general, Voit on the team reveals the depth that great teams need.

    • Tony G

      Keep him. He has spirit. Trade Gleyber instead. Play DJ at second. Gleyber’s time as a Yankee is limited anyway. Prospects replace him at second next year. Play Stsnton in the field. Judge in center. Hicks sits or is traded. Voit dh.

      • Judge is fine in CF but he won’t be there much if at all. Wither Gardy? I hear crickets. RE-SIGN #11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Anthony Grabosh

          I would be surprised to see Gardner come back. Hicks is the fourth outfielder and behind him there are Inciarte, LaMarre, and Locastro. The closer we get to opening day….

  8. Tim Loceddardstro

    Drive him out to the middle of nowhere and leave him for dead? Force him to eat Krispy Kremes until his stomach bursts? Stuff him into a cannon and shoot him into the East River? Quite a few different options, Derek, but I don’t think he can stay. There’s already one too many infielders in DJ. Where is DJ going to play? I don’t like Boone’s answer “everywhere” because that means “nowhere.” DJ needs to be playing every day. He’s not a backup utility infielder. A lot is made about pinch hitting for the C and SS every day. Perhaps once in a while but that will only be when trailing. There’s not enough AB’s there for Luke to stay fresh. I’d trade him for an arm and a leg for Donaldson. It’s either trade Luke or trade Gleyber and Gleyber can backup SS and has a lot more upside. There have to be NL clubs looking for DH’s now that it’s league wide.

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