Luke Voit has been one of the best first basemen in baseball since 2018. In fact, he was named as the third-best first baseman in baseball in MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now” series. Despite having good minor league numbers, there was not a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals for him. Voit was sent to the New York Yankees in a trade that received very little attention because of this. Many thought he was a depth piece, a fringe major-leaguer at best. However, the Yankees felt they could bring out the best in Voit, which is what they have done. The New York Yankees have been rumored to be shopping Voit as he is one of their best trade chips. However, first basemen do not typically have the highest trade value. Regardless, a Luke Voit trade might be a smart move for the Yankees because his value will never be higher.
Besides age and talent, one of the biggest factors in determining the value of any trade target is club control. In Voit’s case, he is slated to become a free agent in the 2024-25 offseason. That leaves him with four more years of club control which increases his trade value for sure. As seen in the Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor trades, players with only one year of control will not garner the same package in return.
Luke Voit is also entering his age-30 season in 2021. This means he is still in his prime yet it is another reason why his value will not be any higher than right now. Teams are not going to want to trade for a first baseman entering his mid-30s. The fact that Voit is still in his prime and is very cost-controlled should make him an enticing piece in any trade.
One of the Best Hitters in Baseball since 2018
Since 2018, Luke Voit’s 144 wRC+ ranks 10th in baseball (min. 900 PA). That ranks him ahead of numerous all-star players such as Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuna Jr., Bryce Harper, and many more. Among first baseman, that figure ranks as second best in the sport, right behind Freddie Freeman. His wOBA of .384 ranks 11th and .541 SLG ranks 13th in baseball in that same span. Despite not accumulating as many plate appearances as others, Voit has been one of the best hitters in baseball on a rate basis. His .278/.371/.541 (.913 OPS and 143 OPS+) batting line is nothing short of elite. Even with this excellence, Voit’s best season came in 2020 as he led the league in home runs with 22. He walked less than normal but posted a .610 SLG, a .948 OPS, and 156 OPS+, leading to a ninth place finish in MVP voting.
In breaking down Voit’s performance in 2020, his advanced metrics reflect a player who is evolving as a hitter. While his walk rate decreased by 6.6%, he lowered his strikeout rate to a more respectable 23.1%. This is because his swing rate, first pitch swing rate, and in-zone contact rate all drastically increased. His in-zone contact rate went from 74.3% to 80.8%, first pitch swing rate from 43.1% to 51.7%, and swing rate from 47.3% to 52.1%. What this means is that Voit was being more aggressive at pitches inside the zone and making more contact, ultimately doing more damage. As such, his chase rate increased from 22.4% to 27.5% yet his whiff rate decreased from 35.1% to 27.6%. His pitches seen per plate appearance also fell from 3.95 to 3.89.
Overall, it seems like Luke Voit altered his approach at the plate. Even though it led to fewer walks, it might have made him a better all-around hitter. Voit’s advanced metrics make him appealing to a potential suitor because he is getting better year-by-year and his numbers reflect that.
Voit’s offensive prowess is more than enough to make him the center of a trade package for the Yankees. He is not a player that will put up consistently high WAR totals because he is not a great defender nor baserunner, but his offensive talent is undeniable. A Luke Voit trade might be a smart decision for New York in their search for a starting pitcher. His value is high enough that he could be the finishing piece in any trade for a pitcher. Four years of club control, age, and offensive skill make Luke Voit’s trade value higher than it will ever be.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images