The Boston Red Sox have signed former Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. The contract is six years, $140 million or seven years, $160 million depending on a player opt-out after the fourth season, which the team can negate by adding an extra year at a cost of $25 million. The average annual value of the deal comes in at $23.3 million per season, which puts the Texas native firmly among the top earners in the organisation.
Finally, Red Sox Nation can breathe a sigh of relief. Not only does he make this team better, but there are actually quite a few reasons why, for me, this deal makes perfect sense.
It is the first big-money move of Chaim Bloom’s tenure as the CBO of the Sox, who has thus far been reluctant to commit much in the way of dollars or years to anyone. It remains to be seen if this is a signal of intent from the front office that a new competitive window has begun or it’s just an insurance policy for the impending opt-out decision of Xander Bogaerts, and further additions will remain in line with what we have gotten used to the last three years. Either way, I think a move like this had to happen – there are only so many bargain buys and reclamation projects a fan base as vociferous as the Red Sox will put up with after all.
Story is entering his age 29 season, is a career above-average defender at short, and bats and throws right-handed, which will give some balance to a team that lost some solid production from the right side in Hunter Renfroe, who they traded to the Brewers pre-lockout and replaced him with the putrid left-handed bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. Story’s handedness splits per Fangraphs are a career .308 average vs LHP compared to a .258 vs RHP so nothing egregious, And he’s stolen 100 career bases total, and historically the Rockies #27 has batted primarily from the two-hole which again is a positive as it means the already immensely productive triumvirate of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez can stay together in the 3, 4 and 5 spots respectively. Just typing that and thinking about how exciting this lineup has become is making me emotional in all the right ways.
It seems as though, if reports are correct, that he will be the everyday second baseman in 2022 – a position that needed filling for what seems like an eternity ever since Pedroia’s knee combusted in 2017. The move to second base is quite significant because you’re sliding top-level production in the form of a career .272/.340/.523 hitter to complement a roster which made the ALCS last year, in a spot where the Red Sox saw little to no production from the duo of ‘DFA’d mid season’ Marwin Gonzalez and ‘oft-injured’ Christian Arroyo.
Before anyone says, “but he played at Coors Field, so his numbers are inflated”, let’s dig in a little bit to see what’s what before making bold assumptions.
So Fangraphs has the 6-foot-2 slugger’s WRC+ at home as 125 compared with a road WRC+ of 98, basically informing the general public that he’s a mere league average hitter away from the thin air of Colorado. But that certainly does not tell even half the story (pun intended), as it has been fairly universally debunked that playing your home games at Coors Field is a cheat code for your metrics. In fact, there’s a pretty good argument to be had that playing so many games in a stadium where breaking balls move so drastically differently to anywhere else can be a serious harm to your numbers away from home as the acclimatisation period to being able to read how different pitches move takes a lot longer. It would actually be quite interesting to dive into how Rockies hitters have performed the first game of a road trip compared with the rest of the series to see how much of this argument holds water, but we won’t get into that now.
This spray chart highlights another interesting facet of Trevor Story because due to the enormous outfield he’s become accustomed to, his overall numbers and particularly power numbers would actually be better at his new home. H re is his 2021 spray chart overlaid at Fenway. L t your imaginations run wild.
One thing though, that can’t be measured is the impact (if any) this move has on the long term future of current shortstop Xander Bogaerts. H already spoke recently, commending the decision to bring the new second baseman onboard, but it’s going to be interesting to see what happens after the Aruban inevitably opts out of his remaining three guaranteed years at the season’s end.
Signing Story feels almost a leverage play against that upcoming negotiation and could work favourably for the Red Sox if Bogaerts truly does want to stay in Boston – showing that the team has direction and is looking to add pieces around him to stay competitive long term. Alternatively, it could almost achieve the opposite result by alienating him and causing resentment that the franchise linchpin who he helped win two rings with has already moved on and put contingencies in place for his departure. It’s all very finely balanced and seems to be a precursor for what will likely be a big topic of conversation come the conclusion of this year’s Fall Classic because, hey, it’s Boston (and Scott Boras). This is all before we have any idea of what direction the franchise even wants to go in with regards to an extension but a topic, no doubt, we will be revisiting many times in the near future.
Even though there are risks to signing any player to a six-year deal, I think this is a really good get for the Sox. He brings versatility, presence and depth to the lineup, whilst also offering some insurance for future events. The American League East has turned into an absolute monster division with what the Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays have done over the last couple of years, and if nothing else it shows that the front office will spend when necessary to ensure they are right there fighting amongst them.
Photo by G Fiume
Richard Banks covers the Boston Red Sox for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @GloveIsLife