By: Noah Wright
Yankees’ Luke Voit is probably the find of the decade for the NY Yankees. While the Yankees have found plenty of diamonds in the rough (Didi Gregorious, Aaron Hicks, Chad Green, Gio Ursela just to name a few), Voit has been the most productive of any of the batters the Yankees have found. Last season at the deadline, The Yankees acquired the slugger from the Cardinals for Giovanny Gallegos, and Chasen Shreeve. This trade was basically glanced over. Voit was never a huge slugger in the minors, or any sort of top prospect. The Missouri State Product’s highest full season home run and slugging % total in the minors was 19 and .477 in 2016. Voit started to show a lot more promise in 2017 when he batted a strong .327/.407/.565 with 13 home runs in 407 PA’s, but he still wasn’t considered a large piece of the future. Voit made his debut that season and slashed a meh .246/.306/.430 with a 97 OPS+, and 94 wRC+ through 124 PA’s. The next season, Voit, again, was killing it in AAA. He had a .299/.391/.500 line plus 9 home runs through 271 PA’s. Voit only appeared in 8 games with the Cards before the trade to NY, and that’s when Voit caught fire. In just 148 PA’s, Voit blasted 14 home runs, and batted .333/.405/.689 with the Yanks.
Entering 2019, Voit was in line to be the regular 1B for the Yankees, but there was some questions about how he would perform through a full season. There’s no doubt what Voit did through his 148 PA’s was beyond outstanding and really gave the Yankees the power boost they needed down the stretch, but Voit never had the track record to give people the confidence of him performing at a decent level through a full season. Would Voit be the guy the Cards saw in 2016, or the prolific slugger the Yankees saw in the second half of 2018? Well Voit has answered that question, and he looks much more like the Voit we saw with the Yankees last season. Currently, the Yankees 1B looks like an all-star through 300 PA’s. He has a .263/.380/.506 batting line, 17 long balls, 136 wRC+, and 135 OPS+. Voit is drawing walks at an impressive 14% rate as well. His wRC+ ranks in the top 20% among all qualified players (31st/156 qualified players). Voit might not be doing much with the glove (-1 dWAR), but his bat is more than making up for it.
Voit might not seem like a prime extension candidate at first. He’s 28, is having a breakout season, and has 5 years of control left. But where Voit could be a decent extension candidate is to buy out his arbitration years. Voit doesn’t hit arbitration until 2021, but buying out his arbitration years now could be good for the Yankees. In my personal opinion, I do think the Yankees should explore an extension with Voit. If Voit keeps up similar production for the next few seasons, his value will go up, meaning his price in arbitration will go up. It will be easier now for the Yankees to buy out his abr years now, and not have to deal with those off seasons later down the line. Plus they might be able to add on a few extra years to keep him under contract past what would be his arbitration seasons.