Yankees trade Luke Voit to Padres for pitching prospect

Luke Voit is finally free. The New York Yankees reportedly traded Voit to the San Diego Padres on Friday, a day after the Yankees announced the signing of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, according to Jon Heyman.

The Yankees will reportedly receive 20-year-old right-handed pitcher Justin Lange in the trade.

Voit, 31, was the odd man out in the Yankees’ infield after the team brought Rizzo back for another season. Voit ran into similar issues last year, when the Yankees acquired Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline. It was assumed New York would try to flip Voit then, but could not find a deal to their liking before the deadline passed. Voit was mostly used as a bench bat during the second half of the 2021 season.

Prior to Thursday, Voit was pencilled in as the team’s starter at first. He was looking for a bounce back season after being limited to 68 games due to various injuries last year. In 2020, Voit turned in a breakout season, posting a .277 / .338 / .610 slash line and leading MLB with 22 home runs during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Voit will now look to get back on track with the Padres. Petco Park isn’t as friendly as Yankee Stadium for home-run hitters, though Voit might have enough power to compensate. If you take the distance and trajectory of all Voit’s home runs from 2019 to 2021 and pretend Voit hit those balls in Petco Park, he would lose just one home run over that three-year stretch, per Baseball Savant.

Thanks to the universal designated hitter rule, Voit won’t be relied upon to play the field much in San Diego. Eric Hosmer is expected to receive the bulk of the playing time at first. Voit will likely be the team’s full-time designated hitter, though he will probably spell Hosmer occasionally in the field. With Fernando Tatis Jr. out with a broken wrist, Voit should provide the team with an elite power source to help get through Tatis’ absence.

Voit is arbitration-eligible through the 2024 season. He will make just over $ 5 million in 2022.

Yankees free up infield logjam, snag prospect

The Rizzo signing all but guaranteed Voit was on his way out. Voit proved in 2020 he deserves regular playing time when healthy. With Giancarlo Stanton already filling the team’s designated hitter spot, Voit would have once again been relegated to a spot on the bench. Dealing Voit clears up that logjam, and also gives the Yankees a young pitching prospect to develop.

Lange, 20, has plenty of talent. He was selected by the Padres with the No. 34 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft. Coming into the 2021 season, Lange was listed as the No. 19 prospect in the Padres’ system, for Baseball America. His fastball di lui flashed 98 mph before being drafted, though he was limited to shoulder fatigue immediately after turning pro.

Lange’s professional experience is limited. He has appeared in nine games in 2021 and has a 6.95 ERA in those appearances.

Given Lange’s age and promise, it’s foolish to read too much into those struggles. Lange still has plenty of time to develop into a strong prospect.

With that said, high school pitching prospects are always a risky proposition. Yankees fans should view Lange as a dart throw. If he develops, great. If not, then the Yankees essentially made the move to free up $ 5 million.

Luke Voit is on his way to San Diego. (Photo by Cliff Welch / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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