Best Fits for Trevor Story

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Trevor Story is one of the marquee names still available on the free-agent market. The two-time all-star shortstop is 29 years old has played the entirety of his career with the Colorado Rockies. While 2021 was not his finest season, Story is one of the best shortstops in the game. Going back to 2018, Story has put up a .281/.348/.532 (.880 OPS and 118 OPS+) batting line to go with full-season averages of 34 home runs, 95 RBI, 27 stolen bases, and a 6.0 bWAR. Coors Field or not, Story has been one of the best players in the sport since 2018.

Trevor Story in 2021

In 2021, Trevor Story posted his lowest OPS (.801) since 2017. He hit his fewest number of home runs in a full season (24) since 2017 as well. Additionally, he posted his lowest AVG, OBP, and SLG since 2017. Despite this, Story still stole 20 bases. He still put up a 4.2 bWAR season. His exit velocity, hard-hit rate, barrel rate were all still in the 62nd percentile or better. With 9 DRS and 3.6 UZR, Story graded out as an above-average shortstop by FanGraphs’ measure. What does all this mean? It means Story is a well-rounded player who hits the ball hard and still provided tremendous value in 2021.

An interesting note about Story’s 2021 season is that he did miss some time due to an elbow injury. This injury impacted the way he throws the ball at shortstop, and probably had an impact on his offensive numbers as well. Whereas Story graded out well defensively by FanGraphs, he posted -7 OAA per Baseball Savant. There is no doubt the elbow injury alters his market in free agency.

Corey Seager received $325 million, Javier Báez received $140 million, and even Marcus Semien got $175 million. Semien is versatile and can play both middle infield spots at a high level, so can Baez. Seager is the best hitter of all the shortstops available this offseason. Unless Story wants a one-year deal to restore his value, I think he likely ends up with a deal of around $180 million. Let’s look at three teams that present the best fit for his services once the lockout concludes.

New York Yankees

Quite frankly, the New York Yankees are the best fit for Carlos Correa as well. However, if they do not want to spend $350 million, Trevor Story is the way to go. Story is a player whose overall value can exceed that of Correa’s in any given year. This is what makes this so interesting. Correa is the better defender and does not have any current injury issues. Historically, however, Story has been the less-injured player on the whole. For the Yankees, he would be the big shortstop that fans have been clamoring for. The story would be the team’s best shortstop since Derek Jeter. The Yankees have stated several times that improving shortstop is a priority and Story does just that. He simultaneously helps the team get more athletic and better defensively.

The only issue with the Yankees would be the strikeouts. Story has a career 27.6% K rate, which just about mirrors the strikeout rate of Gary Sanchez in 2021. The lineup does need to get more contact-oriented and Story does not necessarily do that. However, what he brings is a better quality of contact than most hitters on the team in 2021. Lastly, the Yankees’ top-two prospects are shortstops. If they prove to be legitimate major-league players, either Story or one of those prospects could slot over to third without much issue. The Yankees were not involved in the pre-lockout spending spree so it will be interesting to see what their first moves are once the lockout is over.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the worst defenders in baseball right now. In 2021, Didi Gregorius posted -10 DRS and -18 OAA. Even if Story is a negative defender when it comes to outs above average, he cannot be worse than what the Phillies currently have. The team had one of the worst infield defenses in the league last year and signing Story would go a long way to shore up that problem. Whether it is moving Didi to second or third base, this is something that can easily be done to make space for an all-star player like Story.

The Phillies have a few long-term contracts right now so it is unknown if they will want to add another. However, with their market size and Dave Dombrowski as President of Baseball Operations, this move makes a whole lot of sense. The team has a long way to go before being a serious contender. Philadelphia ranked 14th in the league in stolen bases, 15th in home runs, and13th in runs scored last season. Adding Story would not only improve their defense but also make a signifcant offensive impact in multiple areas.

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros reportedly offered Carlos Correa a five-year deal worth $160 million early in the offseason. That amounts to a $32 million average annual value. However, Correa is seeking a longer deal than that. Why not just offer Trevor Story that deal? Due to his age and some of the injury concerns, Story is not getting a 10-year deal. If the Astros can up the deal a little bit to six or seven years, it seems likely that Story would accept it. The Astros currently do not have a shortstop as it is all but likely that Correa is gone. Houston has had a very dynamic middle infield since 2015, and adding Story would just continue that stretch. Not to mention that if Story is healthy, his defense would contribute to one of the best defensive teams in the sport.

When comparing Story to Correa, both are great dynamic, all-around players. However, what Story brings to the table that Correa doesn’t is speed. Story steals bases and is a 25-25 threat every season. He was worth 6.4 baserunning runs (BsR) above average in 2021 while Correa was worth -0.6. In 2021, Story had an extra-base taken rate (XBT%) of 55% while Correa’s was at 42%. This further proves the point that Story can be more valuable than Correa in any given year of their upcoming contracts. For the Astros, specifically, for as great a team as they are, they do not have great baserunners. Adding Story would add another dimension to that lineup which they do not currently have.

Other Team Fits

While the Yankees, Phillies, and Astros present the best fits for Trevor Story, the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs make sense as well. Story is seen as a player who can be versatile and switch to second or third base, which broadens the scope of his potential suitors. Similar to Javy Baez, Story did not have his best year in 2021 but can be a major contributor to any team that signs him. Also, Story had an .843 OPS in the second half compared to .765 in the first, perhaps signaling better health as the season progressed. It will be interesting to see where Story ends up and what his contract ultimately looks like.

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Players Mentioned:

Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Báez, Marcus Semien, Carlos CorreaDerek Jeter, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius