Luke Voit’s Yankees Role
First, let’s focus on Luke Voit since he will be directly affected by the Rizzo deal.
Voit, who is in his age-30 season, has produced offensively for the Boys in Pinstripes since he joined the team in 2018. In 148 plate appearances during his first year, he mashed a slash line of .333/.405/.689, including 14 home runs and 33 RBI. Voit banged 21 home runs and 62 RBI in 510 plate appearances in 2019.
Voit topped that during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season when he hit a major league-leading 22 home runs and drove in 52 RBI in just 234 plate appearances while battling plantar fasciitis for most of the season.
Unfortunately, the 2021 season has not been kind to him. Voit has logged three stints on the IL and has only played in 29 games thus far. He has produced only three home runs and 11 RBI.
Cash probably believed that Rizzo represented a significant offensive and defensive upgrade over Voit. Plus, he was affordable. Hence, the Yanks acquired him.
So, where does this leave Voit after he returns from the IL and rehab? On Friday afternoon before the Miami Marlins game, Boone said, “We’ll see. Things change day-to-day all the time and certainly have with us over the last few years. So obviously, we know what we have in a really good player with Luke. We’ll see how the days unfold. But right now, it’s about getting him just back up to speed and getting some game reps under his belt.”
Nevertheless, once Voit is back in playing shape, it will be crazy to take Rizzo out of the starting lineup, given how well he has been playing since joining the Boys from the Bronx. He is crushing the ball as a lefty and contributing on both sides of the diamond. Despite the encouraging words from Boone (and also Cash), the Yanks realize that a substantial upgrade at first base will provide the team a better chance of making the playoffs.
If Stanton continues to play the outfield, Voit could slot into the DH hole in the lineup. Still, it is unlikely that Stanton will play the outfield regularly. Voit also could be employed as a pinch hitter during critical points of a game.
Rizzo will be a free agent after this season, and Voit will remain under team control. At this point, it appears that Tony would be a perfect candidate to stay a Yankee. Given Rizzo’s displeasure with how the Cubs treated the players they traded, he is unlikely to want to re-sign with his old team in 2022.
I expect the Yanks to offer Tony a new, multi-year contract if he continues to play well. Of course, things can still change during the next two months, and no one knows how much money and contract length Rizzo might demand to continue as a Yankee.
Voit’s future is up in the air, especially since DJ LeMahieu (signed to a multi-year contract) will still be available to ably fill in at first base if Tony gets hurt or needs a breather.
Voit is clearly expendable and, if he hits well upon his return from the IL, he could be used to acquire a valuable piece in the Yanks’ 2022 roster puzzle assuming the team signs Rizzo.