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2022 Shortstop Targets? – Trevor Story

At the beginning of the offseason, Brian Cashman said the Yankees were not going to go into the 2022 with Gleyber Torres at shortstop. With a tremendous crop of free agent talent available, the Yankees missed out on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez.

This week we’ll look at a few free agents and trade targets to fill the role.

Today we look at the case for and against bringing in Trevor Story.

 

Trevor Story: A Quick Overview

Trevor Story came into his professional career as a first round draft pick, being taken 45th overall by the Colorado Rockies during the first round supplemental portion of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. (The draft pick came in compensation to the Colorado Rockies for losing Octavio Dotel in free agency.) The young shortstop decided to forego his college commitment to LSU, instead taking the Rockies $915,000 signing bonus. Story was immediately sent to the minor leagues, starting out in Rookie ball for the end of 2011 season. Story had a break-out 2012 season in Class-A ball which helped him become a consensus Top-100 prospect going into 2013 (this was the only time) and another minor league promotion to Class-A+. Unfortunately, his 2013 was disappointing and led to a short-term demotion to Class-A- for the beginning of the 2014 season where he would then spend the remaining portion of the season between Class-A+ and Double-A ball. Story would play in the Arizona Fall League after the season, and continue at Double-A and move on to Triple-A for the 2015 season. Finally, in 2016 he cracked onto the MLB roster for the Colorado Rockies and hasn’t looked back. He signed a 2-Year/$27.5 Million contract to buy out his final two years of arbitration before the 2020 season and is a free agent for the first time in his career.

Over his career, Trevor Story has hit to a .272/.340/.523 (.863 OPS/112 OPS+) triple-slash with 768 hits, 158 Home Runs, and 450 RBI’s over 745 games. He’s also put in just over 6,300 innings at shortstop to a +69 DRS and a +15.4 UZR. Combined with everything, he’s accumulated +26.7 bWAR and +21.6 fWAR over 6 seasons in the MLB.

In 2021, Trevor Story’s offensive production took a step-back as he hit to a .251/.329/.471 (.801 OPS/103 OPS+) triple-slash with 132 hits, 24 Home Runs, and 75 RBI’s. On defense, he had a +9 DRS and a +9.6 DEF, which helped him to a +4.2 bWAR/+3.5 fWAR season.

Trevor Story also has a decent injury history. Just once in his 5 years in the minor leagues did he go on the then-called “DL” for a short period of time. After breaking into the MLB in 2016, Story did suffer a season-ending torn left thumb ligament in early August. This was then quickly followed by a left shoulder strain in May of 2017. In 2018, Story avoided the IL but was dealing with a right elbow problem and in 2019 he had a quick stint on the IL with a right thumb strain. 2020 was a perfectly healthy season, though Story had another short stint on the IL in 2021 for a minor leg injury.

 

The Case For Trevor Story:

While playing mostly in Colorado during his career has definitely helped out his numbers, there have been many players recently who have left Coors Field and still been very productive offensively. Nolan Arenado continues to be a top-tier slugger with the St. Louis Cardinals and DJ LeMahieu nearly hit his way to the AL MVP in 2019 and 2020. Suffice it to say, moving on from Coors Field and Denver, Colorado is not a major concern of mine for Trevor Story.

Trevor Story also fills the holes that the Yankees have, and he has been a very balanced player in his career. According to Fangraphs, Trevor Story has an OFF value of +66.8 and a DEF value of +47.5 over his 6 big league seasons. Having a player that comes across as a very good player on both sides of the ball, especially at a position like shortstop, is incredibly valuable.

Keep in mind that even while producing to his worst offensive season in the past 4 years, Story still produced positive value. Additionally, all of his numbers were better than the average Yankees hitter from last season, and his SLG, OPS, and number of Home Runs would have ranked 3rd on the team.

The Yankees have also had consistent interest in Trevor Story, as recently as the pre-lockout and 2021 trade deadline. Suffice it to say that the Yankees themselves are not going to show interest in a player that they don’t think could fit within their system.

The Simple Pro’s: Instant Upgrade and Balanced Player on Offense and Defense, Previous Interest Shown

 

The Case Against Trevor Story:

Uncertainty is by virtue of our nature of having a desire of understanding and predictability. With Trevor Story’s future there is a lot of unpredictability, which makes him a very big risk.

While Trevor Story has been an excellent defensive shortstop during his time in the MLB, many scouts are skeptical of his future on the left side of the infield. While he has yet to go on any major stints to the DL/IL during his career, he has dealt with many different elbow strains over the last few years and his arm strength has continued to diminish slowly. Unlike other shortstops who may move to third base when their range gets too restrictive, Story is likely to have to move to second base full-time. With DJ LeMahieu under contract there for the next 5 years and Gleyber Torres under control for the next 3 years, there is little room for a shortstop-turned-second baseman.

Additionally, it is unclear at this point what type of contract Trevor Story is going to desire from teams around the league. Some insiders are expecting him to following the tried-and-true method of securing a longer term (6-8 year) deal in the range of $20-$25 Million AAV. Others are expecting Story to follow the path of a player like Trevor Bauer/Max Scherzer with a short term deal (1-3 years) at a very high AAV in order to maximize current salary and cash-in again later on. The questions for the Yankees is if they think Story as a short-term piece- while restricting spending elsewhere- is the last thing necessary for the team to be a true World Series favorite (spoiler: it’s not), or if he is a better long-term investment at a lower annual price.

It is also important to note that Story does not help the Yankees with their line-up balance.

The Simple Con’s: Uncertain long-term future at Shortstop, Unknown Contract Demands, Right-Handed Hitter

 

Ethan’s Thoughts:

There is something to be said about having a problem with having too many good players on a baseball team. There is also something to be said about having a log-jam of immovable players at the big league level. Unfortunately, I think Trevor Story is much more likely to be a cause of the later and not be much of the former.

Now, I fully expect Story to have long-term value to a team that has flexibility up the middle of the infield. Over the next few years he’ll be a good defensive shortstop and at the end of a longer term deal he should be a great defensive second baseman. The years after that he’ll be a good defensive second baseman. And, I’m confident that his bat will hold up outside of Coors as well.

However, I don’t think he’s a fit for the Yankees with either type of contract people are expecting him to get.

With a short-term/high AAV deal, getting Trevor Story would fix one problem area for the Yankees while hindering them completely (with knowing how they are going to (not) spend money) from going after any necessary starting pitching help. I keep arguing that I’d rather get a cheaper, shorter, shortstop option if it means better starting pitching, and Trevor Story is the complete antithesis of that.

With a long-term/low AAV deal getting Trevor Story is potentially setting the Yankees up for a horrible problem in the future. They cannot move on from the DJ LeMahieu contract and they won’t likely move on from Gleyber Torres because of his potential. The Yankees should not want to risk that they’re going to end up with three players whose best position is second base.

Trevor Story seems like the exact type of player that the Yankees would love: right-handed power hitter.

However, Trevor Story is actually an exact wrong for the Yankees.

———

So far, I’ve decided that Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Carlos Correa, and now Trevor Story are all not the shortstop of fit for the Yankees.

Is there anybody who is worthwhile to go after?

(Yes. Check back tomorrow for the best shortstop option for the Yankees and their current situations.)

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