The Padres have cast a wide net searching for upgrades this offseason, coming up empty on a number of free agents and eyeing several who remain on the market. In his latest column, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds Yankees first baseman Luke Voit to the list of targets San Diego is considering. The Yankees are speaking with a number of clubs about Voit, though the identities of other teams and the odds of a deal coming together remain unknown.
Voit represents a unique trade chip for the Yankees, as he has batted a strong .271/.363/.520 (132 OPS+) since joining the club in 2018. Even last year Voit was able to produce at a .239/.328/.437 (109 OPS+) clip despite battling with knee problems and uneven playing time. A run of solid offensive production and three years of team control remaining (via arbitration) doesn’t change the impression that Voit appears to be a man without a home on a loaded Yankees roster, however.
Following their re-signing of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees have an abundance of infielders, all of whom can lay claim to being more defensively valuable than Voit and his career -22 Outs Above Average mark. The 31-year old Voit also saw his strikeout rate spike to an untenable 30.7% mark last season that’s more than double apparent-replacement Rizzo’s 15.1% mark.
For New York, they may not have a specific aversion to Voit so much as they are looking to put more balls in play and back up their pitchers with more reliability. This is a team after all that had the sixth worst strikeout percentage, eighth worst batting average, and eighth worst team defense (per FanGraphs) in all of baseball last season. As a team with World Series aspirations it’s a defensible move to relocate a player that was a drain on all three team categories last season.
Enter the Padres. San Diego no doubt has the same World Series aspirations the Yankees do, but they also have a clearer path to playing time for an under-utilized Bronx bomber. Whereas New York has Giancarlo Stanton and a number of other slugging veterans filling their DH spot, the Padres are largely unequipped to fill theirs. Despite outscoring the Yankees last season, the Friars are in an optimal position to borrow some offense from the Yankees, with the added bonus of keeping their team defense intact.
A hypothetical Voit acquisition would strengthen a lineup that is thin on middle-of-the-order firepower after Fernando Tatis Jr.’s most recent injury. Projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.4MM in arbitration, Voit would also prove eminently affordable for a Padres club that’s about $10MM of payroll shy of incurring luxury tax-related penalties. That projected arbitration figure likely appeals to a handful of clubs, but for a San Diego team saddled with pricy contracts and limited free agent options, a displaced Voit may prove to be their best bet at improving team offense without emptying the farm or wallets.