The Yankees came very close to trading Luke Voit before last week’s trade deadline, Andy Martino of SNY reports. The Yankees discussed three potential deals involving Voit, per the report, one of which fell apart just before the deadline when the trade partner in question backed out of the swap.
With no trade coming together, Voit’s role on the Yankees has rather surprisingly become unclear. Despite the fact that the 30-year-old slugger paced the Majors with 22 home runs last summer and has generally been a well above-average hitter from the moment he arrived on the scene in the Bronx, the 2021 campaign has been something of a nightmare. Voit has endured three IL stints thanks to a torn meniscus, a strained oblique and a bone bruise in his knee, and he’s managed a tepid .241/.328/.370 output in 122 plate appearances when healthy.
Voit’s offense looked to be coming around in the weeks between his two most recent IL stints. From June 22 through July 11, he tallied 72 plate appearances and turned in a .281/.361/.453 batting line with two homers, three doubles and a triple. However, the Yankees acquired Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline and already have a crowded designated hitter scene now that Joey Gallo has been added to an outfield mix that also includes Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton. Per Martino, the team has at least discussed the possibility of optioning Voit to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre — a notion that not long ago would’ve seemed unthinkable.
With Rizzo now entrenched at first base and Giancarlo Stanton slotting in as the designated hitter most nights, there’s suddenly no room for Voit in the lineup. The Yankees are also currently employing a short bench of just three players, making positional flexibility more important than usual. Voit’s only time away from first base was a single inning in right field in 2018.
Rizzo is a free agent at year’s end, which could potentially open the door for Voit to retake his position at first base and in the lineup next year — assuming the team doesn’t again explore the market for Voit this winter. Voit, after all, would figure to have plenty of value to other clubs this offseason if the Yankees ultimately move in another direction. He’s due a raise on this year’s $4.7MM salary, but his injuries and the ensuing lack of counting stats will suppress the total of that raise. Voit is also controlled through the 2024 season, so an interested club could look to buy low in hopes of securing a longer-term option at first base.
In the short term, Voit began a rehab assignment in Triple-A on Tuesday and work to get back into game shape after a month on the injured list. Whether he immediately returns to the Yankees after that remains to be seen.