The Yankees have gotten more from first baseman Luke Voit than they realistically could have expected when they acquired him from the Cardinals in July 2018. A 22nd-round pick of the Cardinals in 2013, Voit ultimately managed just 137 plate appearances with the team before it sent him to the Yankees in a swap that has worked out well for both sides. Voit has been quite productive as a member of the Yankees, with whom he has hit .280/.384/.517 in 658 trips to the plate, while reliever Giovanny Gallegos emerged as an integral piece of the Cardinals’ bullpen a year ago. However, despite the good numbers Voit has put up with the Bronx Bombers, he doesn’t necessarily have first base on lockdown heading into the new season. Rather, the team’s “open to other options” there, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News writes. Let’s take a look at who’s in the mix…
- Luke Voit: The 29-year-old slashed a robust .263/.378/.464 with 21 home runs in 510 PA in 2019, his first full campaign as a Yankee, but his production dropped precipitously in the second half. Voit battled sports hernia issues throughout, though he insists those problems are behind him. “I had a bunch of MRIs during the season and I finally saw Dr. Myers, a specialist in Philadelphia, and he told me I tore everything down there,” Voit told Ackert. “I was just like, ‘Wow,’ I didn’t really know it was that bad. I tried to fight through it. I’m a competitor I want to play… the past is the past, but now I’m feeling good and ready to get things rolling.”
- Mike Ford: Voit’s injury troubles last year helped pave the way for the lefty-hitting Ford’s major league debut, and he took full advantage. The 27-year-old batted .259/.350/.559 with prodigious power numbers (.301 ISO, 12 homers) over 163 plate appearances. And Ford didn’t sell out for more power by racking up a lot of strikeouts, as he fanned just 17.2 percent of the time (compared to a 10.4 percent walk rate). Moreover, his swinging-strike rate (8.1) checked in exactly 3 percent better than average, and he was actually far more effective versus same-handed pitchers than righties (albeit during a limited sample of work). The track record in the bigs is still small – even Ford recently said to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, “Anyone could be good for 160 at-bats” – but he also held his own in Triple-A, where he owns a .274/.364/.514 mark in almost 900 PA.
- Miguel Andujar: An AL Rookie of the Year candidate back in 2018, Andujar fell on hard times last season because of shoulder woes that held him to a mere 12 games. Andujar was the Yankees’ starting third baseman in his first year, but Gio Urshela filled that role with aplomb when he was down last season and is in line to enter 2020 as their starter there. Andujar, 24, could therefore pick up time at first base and in the corner outfield if the Yankees want to keep his bat in the lineup.
Fortunately for the Yankees, they’re not at immediate risk of losing any of these players if they don’t earn MLB roster spots to begin the season. All three have two minor league options apiece remaining, so New York could send any of them to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if it wants. But they’ve all shown well as big league hitters so far, and the Yankees do have the luxury of deploying a DH. So, regardless of position, Voit, Ford and Andujar could each make a notable impact in the majors this season.