With Arenado gone, what are Trevor Story’s options?
Last week, I wrote about the full range of emotions going through my head as I pondered the future of Trevor Story following last week’s Nolan Arenado trade. While the passing time has provided me with minimal clarity, I have at least reached a point where I’m able to explore all the different directions in which Story could go. Essentially it boils down to: will he stay or will he go, and if he goes, when and to which team?
Below are the three possibilities for what the next year or so could hold for the Rockies all-star shortstop, and the various implications of each outcome.
He signs a long-term deal (the dream)
As fans, we may be scared of this one, given how quickly our joy was wiped away following Arenado’s long-term extension, but this is still the holy grail for the Rockies. At 28, locking down Story for the foreseeable future would give the team a stud building block. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if the shortstop is feeling optimistic about the state of the franchise at the moment.
“I’m sad and a little frustrated to be honest,” Story said when speaking to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, perfectly encompassing the sentiment of every Rockies fan. After seeing how the organization treated Troy Tulowitzki and Arenado — the other two notable franchise faces — it’s easy to see why Story might be tentative about following in their footsteps.
With that said, Colorado is a beautiful place to live; Coors Field is a hitter’s paradise; and with Arenado gone, the Rockies do once again have the money to offer Story a big contract.
It’s tough to get a grasp on what an elite shortstop is worth financially these days given the fact that seemingly every comparable shortstop (see below) will be a free agent at the same time as Story. The closest comparison for now seems to be Xander Bogaerts who signed a six year extension with the Red Sox before the 2019 season for $120 million. The two players are the same age, and Story’s career WAR is just two points behind his Boston counterpart. Bogaerts gets a boost since he signed his contract when he was two years younger (and not during a financially crushing pandemic) but this at least provides a loose idea of what it might take to re-sign Trevor Story.
He gets traded before or during the 2021 season (the most likely)
This seems to be the most likely option for Story and one which, for the Rockies, may make the most sense. Dick Monfort and Jeff Bridich continue to take turns vocalizing their belief that this team is still competitive as long as certain players step up, but after the last two seasons, there isn’t much data to back up that claim.
From a PR perspective, there is absolutely no way the Rockies would trade Story before the season even if ownership thought it was the right move from a baseball or financial standpoint. Discontent was rampant in the Rockies fan base before the Arenado trade and that sentiment exploded after the team practically gave away their best player. It’s still unclear whether or not people will be allowed at stadiums during the 2021 season, but a Story trade would only further alienate the Rockies faithful.
A trade in the next few weeks is just as bad from a baseball perspective as it is from a PR one. Waiting until the trade deadline would give the Rockies the best odds to get a solid package in return for Story. Teams will be making a push for the playoffs and there isn’t a single club out there that wouldn’t love to add the All-Star shortstop to their team for the home stretch. While teams won’t be getting Story for as long if they wait until mid-season to acquire him, the pressure of reaching the postseason will push them to offer the Rockies a better return than they would this offseason. For now, Rockies management appears to be on board with waiting until the season gets going to talk about Trevor Story:
So far, the indication from the Colorado Rockies is that they’re not willing to discuss shortstop Trevor Story in any trade proposals. Yet. He’ll be a free agent in the fall.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 3, 2021
Now what would that a Story package look like? Unlike the contract extension, where it’s tough to figure out exactly what Story’s value might be, it’s a little easier to determine what the Rockies might get on the trade market thanks to the Mets’ recent acquisition of Francisco Lindor. The Mets did get Carlos Carrasco in the deal as well, so it’s not quite apples to apples, but in return, the Indians got:
- Amed Rosario — an MLB shortstop who has failed to reach his potential, but was a top 10 prospect at his peak and could benefit from a change of scenery
- 2B/SS Andrés Giménez — the Mets’ number two prospect known for his excellent defense and speed
- RHP Josh Wolf — a 20-year-old pitching prospect who can get his fastball in the high 90s
- OF Isaiah Greene — the 69th overall pick in 2020
The Rockies would be looking for this as a benchmark with Story and would presumably try and grab a similar return. With Brendan Rodgers or Garrett Hampson serving as a potential Story replacement if he were to get traded, the team wouldn’t necessarily need a direct fill-in like the Indians got with Amed Rosario. Going ahead and trading Trevor Story would mean the Rockies are full in on a rebuild and as a result, would be wise to avoid seeking major league level talent. The rebuild would be best served by Jeff Bridich opting instead to gun for a big haul of prospects. With Arenado and Story gone, the team’s next big hitting prospect is OF Zac Veen, who is projected to arrive in the majors in 2024 — a year which the Rockies could target as the beginning of their next competitive period.
As far as where Trevor Story may head, Bleacher Report cites the New York Yankees as the favorite (of course), but the Cincinnati Reds are another club with a notable hole at the position and a solid enough farm system to offer the Rockies something enticing.
He tests the market as a free agent after the 2021 season (the disaster)
It’s possible that the Rockies surprise everyone and play competitive baseball well into the later part of the summer and decide to keep Trevor Story on the team without resigning him, in the hopes that he can guide them to October baseball. Even if the team is playing well, it would be a mistake to keep Story until the end of the year if they can’t lock him down long-term. Come next offseason, teams having (hopefully) started to recoup some of their financial losses from the pandemic could be ready to go in big. The reality for the mid-market Rockies is that they will not be able to offer Story a competitive offer once the Goliaths get involved. If it comes to this, the Rockies will almost certainly not be re-signing Story and won’t get anything in return when he walks. Trevor Story, may want to avoid this as well, as the aforementioned bevy of free agent shortstops available at the end of next year will make for a competitive market.
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At the end of the day, it’s hard to predict what Trevor Story will do. It would be great if he stays long-term, but if he decides to leave (or is forced out via trade) we’ll always have fond memories of the All-Star shortstop.