The deal with Luke Voit completes the Yankees’ long-overdue facelift

BRADENTON, Fla. — Luke Voit represented what had become of the Yankees. He was muscular and right-handed. He was single-minded as a batsman and one-dimensional as a player.

Beginning at the close of trade last year and accelerating after the Yankees meekly exited the AL wildcard game against the Red Sox, the team’s leadership finally accepted that the assembled group had gone as far as they would go — which they didn’t the fall was far enough.

So Clint Frazier wasn’t written out. Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela were sold to the twins. On Friday, Voit was in the batting cage preparing to play first and bat in the Yankees’ spring training opener against the Pirates when first Aaron Boone in person and shortly thereafter Brian Cashman announced by phone that he was the final part of the breakup this band.

Voit was dealt to the Padres for correct pitching prospect Justin Lange, who was 34th overall pick in 2020. As for trade execution, this was gracious. It came quickly after Voit’s waning role pretty much evaporated with the signing of Anthony Rizzo. Even in this compressed spring training session, Voit came early enough to establish himself with a new team before opening day.

“I’m really happy,” said Voit. “It’s a good thing for my career, you know, kind of a fresh start.”

That’s what the Yankees were for him, too. He was initially buried on the Cardinals behind Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez. But shortly after his July 2018 acquisition, Voit established his power with the Yankees.

New York Yankees Luke Voit leans on the dugout rail during practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees' spring practice in Tampa, Fla.
Luke Voit’s days were numbered when the team took over Anthony Rizzo last season.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

For the next three seasons, he was part mammoth, part mascot, crushing homers and bottles of water (and beer) to celebrate. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. And in 2020, he led the AL in home runs in the COVID-shortened season.

But the problems with Voit also became clear. He was struggling to stay healthy and he was a middle linebacker posing as a first baseman. The Yankees had simply amassed too many right-hitting, injury-prone, fielding-challenged, strikeout-prone clones. Part of the departure from that was the receipt of Rizzo from the Cubs last July, the beginning of the beginning of the end for Voit.

Voit knew he was on loan as a Yankee and the team appreciated how he handled what Boone called a “difficult situation,” especially in the last few days with Rizzo’s return. Now he plans to become the Padres’ regular designated batsman – a gift to Voit that the NL adopted the DH this year.

The Yankees also cleared a roster spot and would be looking a lot better if they could find anything or anything from more depth of catch to a quality midfield backup for Aaron Hicks or a shortstop to back Isiah Kiner-Falefa, leaving Gleyber Torres doesn’t need it.

But there has already been a major facelift, albeit without going to the top of the market this off-season with a Carlos Corea and Freddie Freeman.

the Dismissal of Sanchez, Urshela and Voit last week was the most blatant act moving away from what the Yankees have been in recent seasons. Voit and Urshela were the corner infielders for a 103-win AL East winner in 2019; symbolic of the better job the Yankees were doing in finding undervalued chips in the market. But there was a clock on Cinderella. Their effectiveness and robustness diminished in 2021.

Cashman and his baseball operations department had resisted major changes to the position group for years. As the base became overly right-handed, Cashman insisted that the left alternatives were inferior. As the defense became more Jurassic, the general manager said that fielding wasn’t ignored but that all-around assets were hard to find.

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez #24 reacts after hitting a walk-off RBI single
When trading Gary Sanchez, the Yankees admitted it was time to change their organizing philosophy.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Since the 2021 close, however, the Yankees have steadily changed the face of the position group. It was amplified last week when Sanchez, Urshela and now Voit walked out the door. This gathering went far, but kept hitting the same wall. It went far, but not far enough. Voit called the degree, but no title, an annual “stomach punch.”

And the Yankee Brass couldn’t take it any longer. The deal with Luke Voit completes the Yankees’ long-overdue facelift


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