Luke Voit was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday due to a Grade 2 oblique strain, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters (including The New York Post’s Dan Martin) today that Voit will miss “at least a few weeks” of action.
Between knee surgery and now this oblique strain, Voit has played in only 12 games this season, hitting .182/.280/.250 over 50 plate appearances. It has been a marked step down for a player who had been crushing the ball basically since the moment he came to New York in a trade with the Cardinals in July 2018, with Voit even leading the majors in home runs in 2020.
Voit’s absence (and lack of production when he has played) has been one of the many reasons why the Yankees have struggled to score runs, with just about every regular on the team is having a subpar year at the plate. First base, in particular, has been a problem area — Yankees first basemen have combined for an 82 wRC+, the fifth-worst mark of any team in baseball at the position. Besides Voit and the now-retired Jay Bruce, DJ LeMahieu, Mike Ford, and Miguel Andujar have all seen time at first base, and while LeMahieu is seemingly the best option on paper, his services have also been required at both second base and third base this season.
Since Voit may not be available until late June at the earliest, it opens the door for another option, such as minor league slugger Chris Gittens. A 12th-round pick for the Yankees in the 2014 draft, the 27-year-old Gittens isn’t considered a top-30 Yankees prospect by either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline, and he had never played even at Triple-A until this season.
Gittens is something of a throwback player, a classic slugging first base/DH type with a lot of power (.476 slugging percentage, 75 homers) and a lot of swing-and miss (473 strikeouts) over his 1709 career PA in the minors. That includes a red-hot performance at Triple-A, with a .268/.464/.634 slash line and four homers over 56 plate appearances for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“He’s swinging the bat really well to start the season,’’ Boone said, adding that Gittens is “very much on our radar” given his Triple-A production.
Gittens isn’t on the 40-man roster, and the Yankees don’t yet have a 40-man spot available since a decision hasn’t yet been made about Corey Kluber’s health situation. Kluber will miss at least eight weeks recovering from a strain in his rotator cuff, so a shift to the 60-day IL could be inevitable, and such a transaction would free up a 40-man spot for Gittens or perhaps another player. Martin suggests that the Yankees might also consider veterans who can opt out of their minor league contracts on June 1.