Eric Hosmer was initially reported to be part of the package the Washington Nationals were receiving from the San Diego Padres along with five, high-end prospects in the trade for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, but when Hosmer invoked his no-trade clause to block a deal to D.C., it was Luke Voit who ended up in the pre-deadline swap.
“We had three names for that piece of the deal, Hosmer was one of them and Voit was one and there was one other,” GM Mike Rizzo confirmed when the deal was announced, before the deadline passed on Tuesday, adding he thought the six-year veteran, who’s played for St. Louis, New York (AL), and then San Diego this season, could be an important mentor for the young roster in the nation’s capital.
Voit, before the deal, had a .225/.317/.416 line, 18 doubles, 13 HRs, 39 walks, and 110 Ks in 82 games and 344 plate appearances after he was traded from the Yankees to the Padres this past March. He’s going from a contending team to a cellar-dweller in D.C., however, which could be hard for a 31-year-old veteran, but his new manager said once he joined the club in Philadelphia last night, the club knows he’ll do what he can to contribute to their rebooting ballclub.
“For a guy like Luke, it’s a little tougher ‘cause he was in the mix over there and playing well,” Martinez acknowledged, “but I told him, I said, ‘I value your veteran leadership, of course we value you or else you wouldn’t be here, so all I ask is that you go out there and you lead by example, and go out there and give me the effort that you gave the other teams that you played for, and he was on board, he said, ‘You don’t have to worry about me, ‘I’m going to go out there and play hard every day,’ and I love that.”
Voit, when he spoke with reporters in Citizens Bank Park, said he was surprised he ended up in the deal earlier this week.
“Obviously, a little bit surprising. 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],” he said. “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.”
It was the second trade of the year, and third of his career, and Voit said the reason being in the deal surprised him had to do with where the Nationals are as an organization right now.
“It’s just because this is a younger team, and I’m surprised they wanted like a veteran guy,” he 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.”
That positive attitude, Voit said, is something he’s tried to have wherever he’s been, and he has always tried to lead his teammates as well.
“I’ve always tried to be a leader throughout my whole career. Obviously, being with St. Louis, New York, and now San Diego, so it’s a little different. Obviously, it was fun being in that playoff rush with San Diego and I know we’re out of it already here. But obviously we got 60-ish games left, so gotta make the most of it and I’m excited to learn about a lot of these new teammates, coaches. And I’m gonna go out there and be a blue-collar guy, work my butt off and try to get as many wins as we can for this team.”
“I’ve known Luke for quite a while. I’ve seen him play,” Martinez continued in his pregame presser last night. “I understand what kind of player he is and he can help us. I mean, he’s got a big bat, he swings the bat well, and I’m looking forward — and I told him, ‘Hey, you’re a veteran guy, we’ve got a lot of young players, your voice matters to me, so make your time here useful by helping some of the younger guys, and lead by example, and he’s always been that guy, he’s been good about that.
“When he was with St. Louis, New York, and San Diego, he’s that guy. He likes to go out there, compete, and have fun, and do the right things.”
In his debut with the club, Voit went 2 for 3 with an RBI single in the first and a run scored in a rain-shortened 5-4 loss to the Phillies.
“Like I said, he’s a professional hitter,” Martinez said after the game. “He drove in the first run for us, which was awesome, and then he comes up, and [Noah] Syndergaard was throwing breaking balls, and he made an adjustment and hit the ball off the wall to right field. We knew that about him, like I said, he’s a big bat for us, he had a great first day.”