Yankees: A’s series should’ve shown NYY first baseman of future


The New York Yankees managed to take two-out-of-three from the Oakland A’s this weekend despite the fact that Oakland rosters the absolutely perfect player for Yankee Stadium. Huh.

Bombers fans bore witness all weekend long to what it looks like when a lefty with a power stroke takes aim at the short porch, and it was impossible not to wonder what it might look like for 81 games plus the postseason instead of a single series.

Oh, and this particular lefty can go dead center, too, as evidenced by his bomb off Jordan Montgomery on Sunday.

So…when does Matt Olson hit free agency again?

Olson is a maniac, a monster, a Gold Glover, and exactly the kind of player the A’s don’t typically keep the welcome mat out for as they approach free agency — and occasionally trade for a high return a year and a half before that time arrives.

Oakland won’t swap with the Yankees, another supposed contender in their league, before Olson hits the market. But is there any chance the Bombers can arrive at the slugger’s door with a boatload of cash after the 2023 season? And what if they traded Luke Voit for an impressive return before that point?

Yankees would thrive with Matt Olson at first base.

Now, we love Voit. Nobody wants to sacrifice offense at one of the game’s most important positions. Olson is simply one of the very few first baseman who might be better than Voit on offense and is a massive upgrade on defense. And did we mention he’s left-handed?

Voit hits free agency following the 2024 season at the age of 33; Olson hits the market after 2023, and he’ll be 29. Which expenditure seems wiser: three more years of mid-30s Voit at $22 million per, or four-five years of Olson at $27 million per? Sad to say, but the A’s masher simply balances this lineup perfectly at a similar cost — pending an unfortunate injury or badly-crafted aging curve.

Again: we love Luke Voit. The offense has not looked remotely the same without him in 2021, and his fire, guile and determination have been just as massive as his league-leading power in recent years. Remember when he was the only Bomber willing to diagnose the team as “sucking” last September before they ripped off a 10-game winning streak?

However, the one ability he doesn’t have is Gold Glove defense — oh, and availability. Sorry, we messed up the aphorism. He missed most of the latter half of 2019 with an extremely painful core muscle injury that ended up changing that team’s trajectory. He battled “foot stuff” in a hobble-filled 2020. He’s now had a knee scope and oblique steal the vast majority of his 2021.

A powerful return from Voit can help steady the Yankees’ ship. It cannot, however, balance a righty-heavy lineup that has become a source of ire this season.

Obviously, we have a long way to go and a lot more data to collect before any decision is made here, and there’s a good chance Olson is no longer writing forThe Athletic when his contract comes to call.

But over the next few years, think about how perfectly effortless the fit seemed this weekend, and think about how Voit’s value might be maximized if he comes back and leads this unit over the next year or two.

There’s no reason to take a gap year from fielding a slugging first baseman; Chris Gittens showed us a lot in his brief stint in the Bronx, but not enough to sell Voit in the offseason to come. This weekend set should have the Yankees lining their ducks in a row for the tail end of 2023, though, when they’ll have a golden opportunity to get better.