Luke Voit wasn’t originally part of the package the Washington Nationals were going to get in return for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, but Eric Hosmer used his no-trade protections to stay in San Diego before he was eventually traded to Boston. Voit, who’d debuted with St. Louis and played in New York (AL) before he was traded to the Padres, was surprised by the deal, which sent him from a contender to the basement-dwelling Nats, who weren’t going to be anywhere near the postseason in the second season of their organizational reboot.
“Obviously, a little bit surprising,” he said once he was officially a National.
“Obviously, you never know what can happen in this game and it was kind of a weird trade going on, and obviously the no-trade clause with [Hosmer]. I obviously didn’t expect to get traded and right before our doubleheader, I found out like ten minutes before the game. You know what, it’s a fresh start, a lot of new faces. I’m excited about a new opportunity.”
He did acknowledge the situation he was traded into, however.
“It’s just because this is a younger team, and I’m surprised they wanted like a veteran guy,” the 31-year-old, six-year veteran explained. “But I’m here to help out in any way I can. And obviously, I want to play this game as long as I can, so I’m excited to come over here and you know rake with these guys and obviously be a leader in the clubhouse and help these young guys become the best that they can be.”
“We had three names for that piece of the deal was — we had three names for that piece of the deal,” Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo explained after the trade, which brought five prospects back along with Voit. “Hosmer was one of them and Voit was one and there was one other.”
“We really liked the talent-level of all five of the prospects [CJ Abrams; MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III; James Wood; Jarlin Susana], and we got a veteran player in Luke Voit which we think will help this year in the mentoring process and that type of thing,” the General Manager added.
In 53 games and 224 plate appearances in D.C. following the deadline deal, Voit hit just four doubles and nine homers, with a .228/.295/.381 line with the Nationals, with a .225/.317/.416 line, 18 double, 13 home runs in 84 games and 344 PAs with the Padres before the trade. He finished the season at 0.2 fWAR between the two teams.
Late in the regular season, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez talked about what Voit needed to do to get back to the 1.5-1.6 fWAR player he was in limited action between 2018-20, before the slugger finished at 0.3 fWAR in 2021 (.239/.328/.437, 7 doubles, 11 HRs in 68 G, 213 PAs).
“He’s another one that has to stay in the middle of the field,” Martinez said.
“I watched him play — especially when he was in Yankee Stadium — and he hit, drove the ball to right-center field. Why? Because right-center field is where you really want to hit the ball. So, when he stays in the middle of the field, he’s got the potential to hit 35 and drive in 100.
“Especially some of those freebies at third base with less than two outs,” Martinez continued. “He’s got to understand, ‘Hey, just put the ball in play and stay in the middle of the field and you can drive in 100 runs and hit the ball, 35 homers, but hit the ball the other way. You’re going to pull balls, but for the most part you need to stay in the middle of the field.’”
Voit, who avoided arbitration for the second time when he signed a 1-year/$5.45M deal with the Padres last season, was expected to get a raise to around $8.2M over the winter, in the third of year of four arbitration-eligible seasons before he’ll reach the free agent market in 2025.
Last night, however, the Nationals announced they non-tendered Voit, along with 2014 1st Round pick Erick Fedde, and pitcher Tommy Romero.
“Additionally,” the club noted in a press release on the roster decisions, “the Nationals have tendered contracts to the other unsigned players on the 40-man roster,” which was at 38 in the aftermath of the latest moves.
The seven arbitration-eligible players who were tendered contracts ahead of last night’s 8:00 PM deadline to do so: Victor Arano; Carl Edwards, Jr.; Kyle Finnegan; Hunter Harvey, Tanner Rainey; and Victor Robles, and Lane Thomas.
MLBTraderumors.com projects Arano will get $1M in 2023, Edwards, Jr. will get $1.6M, Finnegan will get $2M, Harvey will get $1M, Rainey will get $1.5M as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery, Robles will get $2.5M, and Thomas will get $2.1M.
Fedde, 29, finished his sixth big league season with a 5.81 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 58 walks (4.11 BB/9), 94 Ks (6.66 K/9), and a .293/.362/.470 line against in 27 starts and 127 IP on the season.
His manager said after the right-hander’s final outing of the campaign he wanted to see the starter get more consistent on the mound.
“He struggled,” Martinez said of Fedde’s season as a whole.
“He struggled, you know, and when I talk to him, I talk to him about — he needs to create his own identity and figure out who he wants to be and what he wants to do moving forward. I know he’s got to get better. We talk about he’s got to attack the strike zone. Location is a big thing for him. Throwing the ball where he wants to. Got to develop his changeup a little bit better, but he’s got a live arm, and when he’s on he’s really good. But it’s consistency with him. He’s got to start getting consistent every five days.”
He earned $2.15M in 2022, after avoiding arbitration with the Nationals, and was due to get a raise to around $3.6M for the 2023 season.
Romero, 25, was not arbitration-eligible this offseason. Selected off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays this past August, he worked his way up to make one start for Washington, and the righty got hit hard, giving up eight hits, five of them home runs, four walks, and eight runs, six earned, in 3 2⁄3 IP against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Nationals and their remaining arbitration-eligible players have the winter to work things out, or they’ll eventually go to arbitration with anyone they can’t work out a deal with before it comes to that.
As for Voit, Fedde, and Romero, they could potentially sign back with the Nationals, for less then they were likely to get in arbitration, or they can look for a new home this winter...