The Yankees-Cardinals Luke Voit trade benefitted both teams, but St. Louis really didn’t have to make the move.
Happy anniversary, New York Yankees fans! The team traded for Luke Voit two years ago on July 29, 2018 and sent relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the St. Louis Cardinals in the deal.
And guess what? This kind of worked out for everyone. The Yankees now have a slugging first baseman after the failed Greg Bird experiment and managed to trade from a position of surplus, which has helped the Cardinals immensely. Shreve is no longer on the team, but Gallegos had a breakout year in 2019, posting a 2.31 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 66 games.
But did the Cardinals really have to do this?
Sure, they had a need in the bullpen, but chances are they weren’t expecting Gallegos to blow up like this since they signed Andrew Miller months later in the offseason.
But let’s look at the bigger picture. The Cards, who needed a first baseman, traded Voit to the Yankees after barely giving him a shot (he played 70 games on a part-time basis between 2017 and 2018) and then went out and acquired Paul Goldschmidt.
Not bad, right? Totally not bad. However, when you saddle yourself down with a big extension for Matt Carpenter, who is definitely more of a first baseman than a third baseman, you compromise your defense. Now that the DH exists in the NL it’s not as bad, but don’t the Cardinals ever think what could’ve happened if they’d kept Voit?
If Voit had remained in St. Louis, the Cards could’ve maybe shopped Carpenter to an AL team in need of a DH/versatile infielder last year, not given up a big trade package for Goldschmidt before having to lock in the 31-year-old to a lucrative five-year extension, and could’ve maybe gone out and gotten Nolan Arenado. Sure, that seems farfetched, but it was possible.
Now listen — we are NOT saying Voit is better than Goldschmidt … but their numbers are eerily similar after a full-season sample size in NY and STL:
- Voit – .277 average, .896 OPS with 101 runs scored, 36 homers and 96 RBI in 160 games with the Yankees
- Goldy – .261 average, .822 OPS with 101 runs scored, 35 home runs and 98 RBI in 165 games with the Cardinals
Voit is making $634K this year while Goldschmidt is taking home $26 million per season through 2024. Goldy’s defense is way better, but that’s a big price disparity, no?
While the trade package for Goldschmidt wasn’t prohibitive — the Cards sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly and infielder Andy Young to Arizona — that same package could’ve been used to acquire a top-line starter or even a guy like Arenado (though he would’ve cost more).
Trading for a high-priced first baseman is hardly a shrewd move considering we know how deep the position is and how relatively easy they are to come by. The Cards could’ve kept the cheaper option, worked on his defense, and used other assets to fortify other areas of the roster that are more difficult to build/develop.
That’s how the Luke Voit deal ended up screwing the Cardinals in the long run.