In a surprise move, the Padres have traded RHP Justin Lange to the New York Yankees for first baseman Luke Voit. This isn’t their way of trying to edge out fellow first baseman Eric Hosmer but with the DH coming to the NL, stronger bats have become a necessity amongst teams.
A Bitter-Sweet Ending
Since his arrival to New York in the back half of the 2019 season, Voit made his presence known quickly within the organization. His first 39 games with the Yankees saw him collect 14 home runs accompanied by 33 RBIs thus establishing him as the new starting first baseman going forward. Yankees fans had to be truly excited for this as they endured what felt like endless seasons watching former member Greg Bird look sharp in spring training only to end up on the IR right before opening day. It seemed they finally found their staple at the position and no longer had to constantly look for replacements but time soon caught up with the young slugger.
Even though he won the home run title in the covid-shortened 2020 season, his injury frequency started getting worse and worse. It all started with abdominal tears in the middle of the 2019 season and progressed into four different IR stints during 2021. Injury history combined with his inability to hit at the plate developed into rumors he was going to be traded at the deadline last year but that did not come to fruition. Instead, the Yankees took a warm dip in the free agency pool for first basemen and after coming up short to acquire either Freddie Freeman or Matt Olson, elected to re-sign Anthony Rizzo to a two-year deal.
With Rizzo now solidified as the starter, the writing was on the wall nice and clear for Voit to see but fortunately for him, he"s being given to a team who"s already prepared for the postseason. I know I spoke about his inconsistency at the plate but the power that he possesses is still prevalent and can be awoken again. What he needs to do is slow himself down and practice focusing on simple base hits so that his approach at the plate remains cool and collected as opposed to jumping on the first pitch and trying to get a quick run across. The Padres lineup was already deadly but with the addition of a guy like Luke Voit, they could give their division rivals a run for their money.
On the flip side of this trade, the Yankees are receiving a reliever who was San Diego"s first-round pick back in 2020 and went 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in Low-A ball last season. Statistics aside, the Yankees most likely saw the potential for Lange to ascend quickly in order to aid their Major League bullpen in 2022. The Bronx Bomber"s ‘pen last season ranked among some of the best in the AL so adding more young arms to this arsenal will only keep them a step above the competition.
SoCal Stays Hot
After the Dodger"s huge signing with Freddie Freeman, the Padres must have been antsy to get their hands on a player worth their time and money. Voit going to Slam-Diego may not have caused tremors in Los Angeles but it most certainly urged them to raise an eyebrow and think about what an interesting move they made. Ironically, San Diego and Los Angeles made two of the best acquisitions for first basemen in their division. One of them will fill a starting role and bolster an already outlandish lineup while the other will look to provide depth and possibly remain a constant in the lineup as their first-ever DH.
It might take him a little time to get up to speed with the organization itself but some forget that he came to New York from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017, so he"s no tourist in the NL. If he can remain healthy and get back to how he knows he can play then I see him becoming the DH this team was missing all along and may not have known they needed. Whether you view this trade as mediocre or not is up to you but the optimism for this player is high right now and I believe he will have a bounceback season in 2022.
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