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Should the Twins Sign Luke Voit?

The former MVP candidate has had a rough couple of years, but he could fill a big need for the Twins.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

With the free agent market all but dried up, Luke Voit has been speculated as a potential fit for the Minnesota Twins. Theoretically, he could be. The Twins are heavy on left-handed bats and short on first base depth with Jose Miranda taking over third base and Alex Kirilloff’s unreliable wrist. A right-handed, slugging first baseman could be just what the doctor ordered.

Kirilloff has looked like the middle-of-the-order bat the Twins need when he’s healthy, but counting on his wrist after 2 consecutive season-ending wrist surgeries is a fool’s errand. The good news is that first base can be learned fairly quickly, as we saw last season with Luis Arraez. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, and even Nick Gordon get some reps at first in spring training. Unfortunately, every one of these players bats left-handed, leaving room for a right-handed bat like Luke Voit.

Voit’s best year, by far, came in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. In just 56 games, Voit hit a career-high 22 home runs with a .948 OPS, while finishing 9th in MVP voting. That season was so unique that it’s hard to extrapolate anything from it, but any player hitting 22 dongs in a 60-game stretch deserves a look.

Since then, Voit has fallen off a bit. His injury-shortened 2021 left a lot to be desired with a .764 OPS. He was healthier in 2022, playing 134 games between the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals, but the results were largely the same as the previous year.

The good news is that Voit’s 2022 Statcast numbers paint a prettier picture. He strikes out a ton (groans in Miguel Sano/Joey Gallo angst), but he hits the ball hard and has a decent walk rate. He doesn’t bring much defensively or on the base paths, but it’s common knowledge that Voit’s value is in his bat.

Now the bad news: Voit has reverse splits for his career and was exceptionally bad against left-handed pitching in 2022. In his career, Voit has a .768 OPS against lefties versus .838 against righties. Last season, he was even worse against lefties with just a paltry .569 OPS. For context, Andrelton Simmons produced a .558 OPS in his much-maligned one year in Minnesota, albeit with solid defense and base running.

With how bad he’s been against left-handed pitching, the Twins would be better off rolling out Joey Gallo (.770 career OPS vs lefties) or Max Kepler (.638) at first base. Furthermore, the Twins’ 26-man roster is pretty much full, barring another trade. Assuming the Twins carry the maximum 13 pitchers (which they will), they pretty much have 12 players locked in to roster spots (Jeffers, Vázquez, Correa, Farmer, Miranda, Polanco, Buxton, Gallo, Kepler, Gordon, Kirilloff, Taylor) with highly qualified minor league depth competing for the final spot (Larnach, Wallner, Celestino).

Larnach and Wallner have shown enough flashes to deserve regular big league playing time, so any addition keeping them off the 26-man roster would have to really deserve it. The Twins front office has also been quietly very enthusiastic about Edouard Julien and believe he could contribute in a big way to the 2023 squad with his elite on-base skills. Julien hit .300/.441/.490 with 17 homers in AA last season, and followed that up with a bananas .400/.563/.686 line in 21 AFL games. He’s struggled to find a home defensively, so first base may be where he ends up anyway. This also says nothing of Kyle Garlick and his career .839 OPS against lefties, who the Twins shrewdly brought back on a minor league deal.

Could Voit rebound and look more like the hitter he was in 2019 and 2020? Absolutely! His career splits versus lefties aren’t as stark as last season, but the Twins have a pressing need for someone who can primarily hit lefties. Voit doesn’t appear to be an upgrade over a player like Kyle Garlick in that regard, so the Twins may be better off rolling with what they have.


Should the Twins sign Luke Voit?

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