MLB rumors: 5 first basemen Yankees could target if Luke Voit has setback

It’s always better to be more prepared than less prepared when it comes to roster building.

That should be Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s thinking when scouring the early-season trade market in the aftermath of Luke Voit’s knee injury. While it’s likely that Voit will be back in a month or so, that’s not a lock.

What if the slugger has a setback or isn’t the same upon his return?

Jay Bruce is wonderful insurance, but he’s not an everyday player over a 162-game season. The Yankees have a deep enough lineup to get by, but could be in the market for a first baseman come summer.

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If that happens, here are five names to keep in mind.

Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: Chicago is headed into a legitimate rebuild that could last several seasons. Does Rizzo, 31, want to stick around? Perhaps, and the Cubs have reportedly made an extension offer. But if Chicago hasn’t found common ground on a contract, a trade could be in play in July. Rizzo’s left-handed stick and ability to control the zone (260 walks, 294 strikeouts over the last four seasons) would be a welcome addition to a right-handed heavy Yankees lineup.

Brandon Belt, Giants: Everything about Belt’s approach at the plate fits the Yankees philosophy. He’s left-handed, and could see a spike in production with the short porch in the Bronx vs. the expansive outfield in San Francisco. He’s selective at the plate, and a pest for opposing pitchers. He could play the field or just DH. He could bat anywhere in the order. Coming off a monster year (178 OPS+), but came into camp slowed by both COVID and mononucleosis in the offseason. Will soon have 10-and-5 rights, potentially complicating a trade.

Carlos Santana, Royals: Coming off a down 2020 (91 OPS+) but is a notoriously slow starter that likely would have picked things up if the season had gone longer than 60 games. His approach would be a welcome addition to New York’s lineup. Plus, he’s a switch hitter and veteran with playoff experience.

Rhys Hoskins, Phillies: Don’t rule out interest here. Yes, the Phillies are trying to compete in the NL East. Yes, Hoskins has been one of the faces of the franchise for years. But the Phillies could have one of the NL’s worst defenses, and reshuffling the infield (Hoskins out, Alec Bohm to first base) could have a ripple effect on the team in a good way down the line. The Yankees would be drawn to a power (91 HR) and patience combo (269 BB) since debuting in 2017 here.

Joey Votto, Reds: This would feel like an old-school, late-90s or early 2000s Yankees move. Trading for the former star at the deadline to resurrect their career in a pennant chase. Think Cecil Fielder, Tim Raines, Daryl Strawberry, David Justice, Eric Chavez, Ivan Rodriguez, Lance Berkman, Denny Neagle, Bartolo Colon. The list was endless. Votto, 37, has slipped (100 OPS+) since the start of the 2019 season. But counting out a borderline (I think he’ll get in) future Hall of Famer is a fool’s errand. Cincinnati would likely have to eat much of the contract (owed $57M through 2023) left to facilitate a deal.

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Joe Giglio may be reached at [email protected].

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