The St. Louis Cardinals made the right move at the time because they didn’t need another first baseman but did have a void to fill in the bullpen. However, trading Luke Voit in July 2018 is a deal that the National League team will regret for years to come.
The Luke Voit trade has been a steal for the New York Yankees, who gave up what amounted to surprisingly little for a valuable bat.
A perfect trade is one that helps both teams
The St. Louis Cardinals were in a pennant race as the 2018 trade deadline approached. They were on their way to a combined 24-29 mark for June and July but still in the hunt in the NL Central. As they looked at their needs, a left-hander for the bullpen became a high priority.
They solved that issue in the form of a trade with the New York Yankees, who sent pitchers Giovanny Gallegos, a right-hander, and Chasen Shreve, a lefty, to St. Louis for first baseman Luke Voit and some international bonus slot cash.
The Cardinals knew that Voit had power potential – he had four homers and 13 extra-base hits in just 114 at-bats for them the previous season. But they also had the reliable Matt Carpenter, 32, as their full-time first baseman and additional help there from Jose Martinez. With no designated hitter in the NL, there wasn’t room for Voit in the everyday lineup.
The acquisition of Shreve achieved the objective. Though he didn’t dazzle, Schreve did make 20 appearance down the stretch, primarily in middle relief. In fact, the move looked great as St. Louis went on a 22-6 tear in August. Unfortunately, a 12-15 mark in September left the Cardinals on the outside looking in when the postseason arrived.
Meanwhile, Voit was on his way to fixing a big problem for the Yankees.
Luke Voit turned the trade into a steal for the New York Yankees
Following the trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, Luke Voit stepped into the New York Yankees lineup as a first baseman and belted 14 homers in 39 games. He was striking out an average of once a game, but Voit also drove in 33 runs over those final two months.
With incumbent first baseman Greg Bird once again unable to hit .200 and outfielder Aaron Judge limited to 112 games a year after hitting 52 homers, Voit was a godsend in both the short and long terms. He helped the Yankees to the 2018 AL Division Series and then gave them the ability to move on last spring from the injury-plagued Bird.
Voit hit a relatively modest 21 homers in 118 games in 2019, but context is important. He did that during a season in which Giancarlo Stanton played only 18 games and Judge missed a third of the year with injuries. Manager Aaron Boone could write Voit’s name onto the lineup card know he was doing more than just filling space.
Luke Voit has emerged in 2020
The New York Yankees could not have asked more from Luke Voit than what he produced this summer in Major League Baseball’s shortened season. Voit led the league in homers with 22, drove in 52 runs in 56 games, and cut down on strikeouts on his way to a .277 batting average.
With the Yankees once again hit hard with injuries, he was a mainstay in the lineup and has helped the Yankees into the best-of-three wildcard series against the Cleveland Indians. He’s a literal keeper, too, since he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2025.
Meanwhile, The Ringer notes that the Cardinals have to be wishing they had held onto Voit. While Giovanny Gallegos, part of the 2018 trade, shows signs of perhaps becoming a full-time closer, the Cardinals got only three big-league appearances from Chasen Shreve – their key to the trade — in 2019 and let him leave for the New York Mets after the season.
And the kicker to the Cardinals’ misfortune? They considered Luke Voit to be expendable because St. Louis already had a first baseman. This season, however, the NL adopted the designated hitter rule, which would have given him a full-time place in the lineup.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.