The Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros have expressed an interest in a free agent shortstop Trevor storyThat’s what Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports in his latest inside article for Audacy’s Big Time Baseball podcast. Heyman reiterates that he also heard Seattle have expressed an interest in the shortstop, as MLBTR reported prior to the lockdown last week. As with all player-team connections established during the Lockdown Age, no conversations between the two parties can take place until the lock is lifted.
Interestingly, Boston was recently named as a team that reached out to the free agent shortstop Carlos Correa‘s warehouse. The path to that connection, which is more than just due diligence, is to move All-Star Xander Bogaerts out of position, an option that neither the player nor the Boston Front Office specified, is on the table. The lesson from a potential Correa chase is in many ways the same as a hypothetical story – sign an all-star shortstop to protect yourself from a Bogaerts exit and to improve infield defense in the meantime.
Just like Boagaerts, Story has yet to provide a firm clue that he will be anything but a shortstop in the 2022 season. As we did with Boston’s recent readmission of Jackie bradley jr. However, the Red Sox are clearly not afraid of shuffling players around if it means improving their defenses. Even after what for him was a humble campaign, the metrics across the board agree that Story would be an improvement over the reigning Bogaerts. With Seattle reportedly showing an interest in Story as a third baseman, of course, it’s possible Boston could do the same and opt to move instead Rafael Devers (a subpar defender) from his position for an alleged upgrade in story.
The Houston Connection, for its value, would require the least moving parts to bring story on board. Since Correa is not in the picture for the time being, the Astros have a clear opening at the shortstop that could fill the story. As with the Red Sox, one story signing can push the team past the luxury tax threshold if they sign anywhere near the MLBTR’s predicted six-year warranty of $ 126 million. This might be a bridge too far for Houston, though they’ll likely have plenty of financial headroom as early as 2023 (not to mention a CBA that could change completely).
Financial complications aside, the Astros’ pursuit of story may depend on their willingness to offer prime prospects Jeremy Peña insight. Peña dominated a 30-game show at the Triple-A this year, hitting 10 home runs with a .287 / .346 / .598 slash line. The home run power is new and certainly encouraging for Houston Brass, but it still may not be enough to hand over the starting shortstop job to a 24 year old.
The Astros remain the top dogs in the AL West, but should expect the competitiveness of their division to increase overall over the next year. The drop from a 7.2 bWAR Carlos Correa to whatever a rookie can produce may be less palatable than simply turning to a permanent producer like Story. Locked up with story alongside Alex Bregmann and Jose Altuve By 2024, the team would then have the advantage of looking for talent outside of the infield for Peña, or it can just hold him down as a very enviable piece of depth.