Luke Voit has been through it all with the Yankees: An invaluable trade-deadline acquisition, a top-tier power bat, a potential trade piece, and now, an expendable first baseman after the team acquired Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline.
The 30-year-old slugger led the majors with 22 home runs in 56 games last season after posting 21 in 118 games in 2019 — his first full season with the Yankees after picked up from the St. Louis Cardinals three years ago.
Voit finished ninth in the American League MVP voting in 2020, but this year has been largely derailed due to an onslaught of injuries that has featured three separate trips (knee surgery, strained oblique, bruised knee) to the injured list.
“The injury bug is the reason [Rizzo] is here, because of me,” Voit said. “I hope [manager Aaron Boone] can find me some consistent at-bats.”
Prior to Wednesday night’s action, Voit had appeared in just 39 games, slashing .241/.325/.400 (.725 OPS) with six home runs and 20 RBI.
But he’s been especially hot as of late, posting an .897 OPS with three home runs and nine RBI over his last nine games, receiving regular playing time at first base after Rizzo was sent to the IL after contracting COVID-19.
Now with Rizzo set to return, Voit isn’t ready to relinquish his role.
“I was top-10 MVP last year and I’ve been a great player for this organization for the last three years,” Voit said. “I’m not going down. I want to play. Obviously, I know it will be tough with Rizzo, but I deserve to play just as much as he does. I led the league in home runs last year. I feel really good again.”
It showed on Tuesday in a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. Voit played a huge part in flipping the script and getting the Yankees past their rivals in the AL Wild Card standings, hitting one home run while driving in three runs — including what proved to be the game-winning two-RBI single in Game 1 — in the pair of New York victories.
Boone admitted that he’ll handle the Voit and Rizzo situation “day by day.”
“The bottom line is [Voit] is in a good spot,” Boone. “He’s a good player and we’re gonna need everyone.’’
If Giancarlo Stanton continues to play in the outfield rather than DH, the opportunity to play both Rizzo and Voit obviously increases, which the slugger noted on Tuesday night.
“The team is in a better spot, in my opinion, if I’m out [in the outfield],” Stanton said.