What’s next for Luke Voit: Yankees bench? Stint in minors? Starter next year?

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Yankees Luke Voit rounds the bases pinstripes
Yankees Luke Voit rounds the bases pinstripes

In the final hours before last Friday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, the Yankees nearly had three separate deals to send Luke Voit elsewhere. At about 3:30, it seemed that Voit was on the move to one undisclosed place, but the acquiring team pulled out of the deal, according to a person with direct knowledge of talks.

Voit remained a Yankee. And somewhat paradoxically, considering the team was so close to unloading him, the Yanks are perfectly happy to have him around.

"He's kind of like the NFL starting quarterback where he goes down early in the year, but by the time he gets back the position is now gone," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told someone named Jim Duquette on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio Sunday.

"This guy obviously can help us. The lane that used to be so obvious currently isn't there, so obviously we are a lot deeper with everything we have. We have more choices, more protection because of it, but unfortunately right now he's going to get some at-bats and do what he does best (in rehab games), which is crush it, and then we'll see how he's going to fit as we move forward."

It was never that the front office didn’t like Voit -- it just didn’t know how reliable his health and production would be for the rest of the year, and had only one chance to address the issue. The team was talking to Colorado earlier in the week about shortstop Trevor Story, but didn’t hear back from the Rockies for several days.

Realizing that wasn’t happening, the Yanks quickly pivoted to the Chicago Cubs and Anthony Rizzo, a lefty -- and a more complete hitter and far better defender than Voit.

Jul 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot Park.
Jul 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot Park.

With Voit progressing in his rehab assignment and drawing closer to returning from a knee injury, the team will soon have to deal with the short-term playing time issue involving a player who led the majors in home runs last year.

It’s a unique situation, and the Yanks have discussed two ways of dealing with it:

-- They could utilize Voit as a bat off the bench down the stretch run, starting occasionally at first and DH.

-- They could option Voit to Triple-A for the rest of the year, keeping him in the organization in case first base is an area of need next year. This might sound extreme for a player who so clearly belongs in the major leagues, but it might be in the best interests of the organization.

The Yankees don’t yet know if they plan to pursue Rizzo as a free agent, though he certainly seems to fit so far. Consider the next two months a mutual audition.

If they do sign Rizzo, Voit would obviously be done as a Yankee. If not, Voit could be back in spring training next year as the presumptive starting first baseman, after a stint on the bench or in Scranton. Tough business sometimes.