Voit, Gore join Nationals; here's what they bring

August 5th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Only two days ago, MacKenzie Gore and Luke Voit were teammates on the Padres. One blockbuster trade and two coast-to-coast red-eye flights later, they were sitting next to each other inside the visitors’ clubhouse Thursday at Citizens Bank Park wearing Nationals gear as they met their new club before a 5-4 loss (five innings, rain) to the Phillies.

Gore, a 23-year-old left-hander, and Voit, a 31-year-old first baseman/designated hitter, are the first two of the six players acquired from San Diego to join Washington. The pair is at different points in their season and their career, but they both factor into the Nats’ game plan following the acquisition. Here’s how:

Voit: Immediate veteran leadership
In addition to their on-field resume, Josh Bell and Juan Soto were two of the leaders on the Nationals. Manager Dave Martinez is looking for the veteran Voit to step into the role in his sixth season.

“The first thing is just learning these guys, learning how they go about their business and just setting a good example,” Voit said. “I’m a guy that’s going to show up early. I’ll be in the weight room, obviously, and then I have a good routine. Hopefully, I can talk to these guys about having a great game plan for these starting pitchers because I’ve had a lot more at-bats than most of these guys.”

Voit was in pursuit of his third postseason push when he was traded to the Nationals. From preparing for the immediate future, he now will help the Nats achieve their long-term goals of building around a young foundation.

“Obviously, it was fun being in that playoff rush with San Diego,” he said. “I know we’re out of it already here. But obviously, we’ve got 60-ish games left, so you’ve got to make the most of it. I’m excited to learn a lot about these new teammates, coaches. I’m going to 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.”

Martinez will utilize Voit in the first base and designated hitter role with Nelson Cruz and Joey Meneses. After hitting .220 in the first half of the season, Voit adjusted his stance to crouch more and move his head less, resulting in harder-hit contact, less chasing and a .265 post-All-Star-break batting average. In his Nats debut, he went 2-for-3 with an RBI single in his first at-bat of the night. He is entering arbitration after this season.

“I want to finish strong and obviously make a good impression for these coaches and obviously the front office, too, for bringing me over here because they think I’m something,” Voit said. “So it means a lot to me.”

Gore: Projected starter on the mend
Gore’s first meetings with the Nationals included getting to know the medical and training staff. The team is taking a patient approach with him while he recovers from left elbow inflammation that landed him on the 15-day injured list on July 26.

“It was just some discomfort, it’s minor,” Gore said. “Everything’s fine. Just kind of building strength back and getting everything 100 percent.”

Once healthy, Gore is anticipated to add a lefty arm to the Nats’ starting rotation. The southpaw, who opened the season ranked as the Padres’ No. 4 prospect and No. 55 overall by MLB Pipeline, made his Major League debut on April 15. He went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) before being sidelined.

Gore describes himself as competitive, with a four-pitch mix that features a fastball as his favorite and a changeup as his biggest need of improvement. He considers himself to be at the top of his game when attacking the strike zone and going deep into outings.

“I know he’s dealing with a little bit of an injury right now, but he’s got wipeout stuff,” Voit said. “So it’ll be exciting to see when he’s back healthy.”

Gore was drafted into the Padres organization out of high school as the third overall pick in 2017. Since then, he watched former veteran teammates -- Mike Clevinger, Yu Darvish, Sean Manaea, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell -- to learn the ropes of pitching in the Majors. Now, he is projected to be a key piece to the Nats’ starting rotation for the future.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Gore said. “It means we have a job to do, and we’ve got to go out there and play well.”