St. Louis Cardinals: How bad was the Luke Voit trade?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees is hit by a pitch during the fifth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees is hit by a pitch during the fifth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

With Luke Voit slugging home runs in the Yankee pinstripes and St. Louis Cardinals cutting Chasen Shreve, many fans are grumbling about the trade that sent Voit to the Yankees. Just how bad was the Luke Voit trade?

When Luke Voit was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos on July 27th last year, many Cardinal fans groaned. With the Cardinals needing another power bat in an underachieving lineup, some thought the 6-3 225lb Voit could help fill that void.

However, the Cardinals needed left-handed help in their bullpen for a playoff push in August and September. Additionally, with Matt Carpenter settled at first base and Jose Martinez splitting time between first and right field, Voit seemed to be stuck in some sort of purgatory in the Cardinals system.

The former 22nd round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, had a slash line of .240/.307/.432 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 70 games with the Cardinals. Defensively, Voit hasn’t been remarkable at first base, with a two-year Rtot/yr of -11 and an Rdrs/yr of -12. Rtot and Rdrs are defensive metrics that measure performance, with 0 being average. In other words, Luke Voit looked destined to be a decent DH, but not an everyday position player.

So the St. Louis Cardinals needed help in the bullpen for their playoff push and the trade was made. How did it work out and was it a bad trade?

Luke Voit in the Big Apple

Luke Voit was originally assigned the Yankees AAA affiliate in Scranton but was promoted to stay with the big league club in late August. Taking over first base from an underperforming Greg Bird, Voit hit a slash line of .333/.405/.689 with 14 HR and 33 RBI in 39 games.

During the 2018 playoffs, Voit came down to earth as he hit a slash line of .235/.381/.353 with four RBI in five games. However, his two-run triple against the Oakland Athletics during the AL Wild Card game was instrumental in the Yankees winning the game 5-0.

Voit picked up where left off in 2018, by having an outstanding Spring Training in 2019. In 17 games, the 28-year old hit a slash line of .289/.365/.578 with 4 HR and 12 RBI. Thus far in two games in the books for 2019, Voit has hit one home run and recorded five RBI, in a part-time role.

Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos

The St. Louis Cardinals got a left-hander in Shreve who they hoped could give them immediate help in the playoff chase in 2018, and a still fairly young right-handed prospect in Gallegos. While the jury is still out on Gallegos, a clearer picture of Shreve has developed.

In 14.2 innings, Shreve had a 3.07 ERA, but had nine walks and gave up 14 hits with five home runs. During the 2019 Spring Training, the 28-year old Shreve didn’t impress with a 5.00 ERA in nine innings pitched. On March 22nd, he was DFA and outrighted to AAA Memphis on March 27th.

Giovanny Gallegos has shown promise in the minor leagues. In 2017, he had a 2.08 ERA in 43 innings with the Yankees AAA franchise in Scranton. Last year, he had a combined ERA of 2.64 in 44 innings with both the Yankees and Cardinals AAA teams.

Shreve and Gallegos will likely start the season with AAA Memphis in 2019.

So, is it fair to call it a bad trade?

Bad trades would be defined as the Steve Carlton trade prior to the 1972 season and the Keith Hernandez trade in 1983. Does the Luke Voit trade rank up with those two trades?

Although some Cardinal fans have reacted that way, especially after Voit’s 2018 performance with the Yankees and the Cardinals recent DFA of Shreve, it’s doesn’t deserve to be the category of Carleton and Hernandez. To be fair, it’s too early a call on this trade.

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Admittedly, at this point, it doesn’t look like a good trade. But a trade must be valued on factors other than the players involved. It’s likely the Cardinal front office was already looking down the road for 2019 when they traded Voit in August of 2018.

The Cardinals knew they needed another ‘big proven bat’ in the lineup and Luke Voit didn’t fit that description. I suspect the Cardinals had their eye on Paul Goldschmidt before the end of the season in 2018. If the Cardinals were planning to engineer a trade for Goldschmidt or another established bat, then Voit didn’t have much of a future role for the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Voit’s apparent limited defensive abilities and the lack of a DH in the National League, there was unlikely to be a place for him in the Cardinal’s future. So a trade made sense.

Ideally, when trades are made, both teams can be winners. But in reality, that rarely happens. In the Voit trade, so far, it looks like the Cardinals were the team on the short end of the stick.

Nevertheless, it’s still too early to say how bad this trade has turned for the St. Louis Cardinals. With time Shreve and Gallegos, after working with the Cardinals pitching gurus, could make a positive impact for the Cardinals.

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In spite of 2018, the Yankees are currently using Voit as a backup to Greg Bird. It appears the Yankees believe Bird and his left-handed bat has a higher upside than the right-handed bat of Voit. Two months in 2018, doesn’t make a career or determine if a trade was bad. It will be better to judge this trade in two or three years, instead of two or three months.