As the St. Louis Cardinals muddle through another mediocre season, New York Yankees’ slugger Luke Voit is putting up MVP numbers on a team that is headed to the postseason as a betting favorite. When the Cardinals made the Luke Voit trade on July 29, 2018, they couldn’t seem to find room for him on their infield.
Now, more than two years removed from the deal, the question must be asked: Should they have made room for the budding Yankees star? Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that played into the trade 25 months after the fact.
And remember, hindsight is always 20-20.
The Cardinals’ Return In The Luke Voit Trade
In return for Voit and international bonus slot money, the Cardinals received bullpen help. One lefty and one righty. The highlight of the deal was the Yankees’ 26th overall prospect at the time, Giovanny Gallegos. The Cardinals also received left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve.
At the time of the trade, the Cardinals were coming off a few bullpen signings that never panned out. Greg Holland and Luke Gregerson were offering the bullpen nothing at the time. Not to mention all of the injuries with Gregerson, Brett Cecil, and Tyler Lyons.
Overuse of Tyler Lyons and Matt Bowman by former Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny was certainly no help to the bullpen that season either. At the time, the bullpen was relying on Bud Norris and a very young Jordan Hicks. They did need help.
Chasen Shreve never really panned out for the Cardinals. He spent little time on the field or even on the roster. Gallegos, however, was worth 2.2 bWAR in 2019 and became the Cardinals’ best reliever following the trade.
Gallegos looked to be off to another great start in 2020 but has since hit the injured list after only pitching 12 innings this season. It’s hard to be valuable when you aren’t on the field.
Reasons for the Luke Voit Trade
It wasn’t that Voit wasn’t talented or was failing at the Major League level for the Cardinals. His numbers in St. Louis were fine for a young player at his experience level.
The excuse that was used by Cardinals’ president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was that they just couldn’t find Voit enough playing time at the Major League level to justify hanging on to him.
Although we don’t know if Mozeliak already had Paul Goldschmidt in his sights as early as July of that season, you have to remember this: The team was playing Jose Martinez and Matt Carpenter at first base at the time.
Moving Utility Players?
Both of those players aren’t even best suited to play first base. Basically, to prevent displacing Martinez, Carpenter, or Jedd Gyorko, the Cardinals chose to move Luke Voit.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but this just looks silly in 2020 if you’re basing your opinion off of stats. Voit is leading the AL in most offensive categories, while Martinez and Gyorko are no longer in a Cardinals uniform, and Matt Carpenter struggles to get his bat off his shoulders these days.
Now, I do prefer having Goldschmidt and Gallegos on the roster compared to just Voit. The sad part is, it looks as if the Cardinals’ talent evaluators hadn’t overlooked Voit, we could’ve had all three. Wouldn’t that be handy if you knew the designated hitter was coming. Oh, wait, everyone did know the designated hitter was coming.
Voit’s Value to the Yankees
It’s very simple to evaluate what Voit has brought to the Yankees. Just look at his numbers, the standings, or flip it over to MLB Network. Voit is a leading candidate for AL MVP this season. How did talent evaluators miss that big??
So, who won the trade? Even if you like and agree with the trade, at this point, it seems impossible to argue that the Cardinals didn’t get the short end of the bat in the deal. Goldy and Gallegos together are solid, but the chance of having all three on the roster begs the question, do the Cardinals need to overhaul their talent evaluation system.
Or maybe the way they develop hitters. Maybe both. Either way, Mozeliak needs to make some major changes this offseason to contend in 2021.
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