Red Sox Rumors: Trevor Story emerging as a free-agent target

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 26: Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies bats during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on September 26, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 26: Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies bats during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on September 26, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have their eye on free-agent Trevor Story

The rumor mill has tied the Boston Red Sox to several of the top free-agents this offseason. After falling short in their pursuit of a few of those targets, their attention has turned to Trevor Story, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

There’s a catch though – Story might need to agree to a position change in order to come to Boston. Xander Bogaerts‘ recent comments insisting that he’s a shortstop indicate that he wouldn’t be thrilled if the team asked him to switch positions, a discussion he claims hasn’t taken place. The Red Sox can’t risk rocking the boat with Bogaerts since he has the opportunity to opt-out of his contract after this season. If the team plans to push him to another position, they should wait until the ink dries on an extension.

Story hasn’t expressed interest in switching positions either but if he doesn’t end up finding the market he expected, he might need to consider a change if the team offering him the most money doesn’t have an immediate opening at shortstop.

It’s debatable how serious Boston’s interest in Freddie Freeman was considering top prospect Triston Casas is expected to be their future at first base. Freeman’s camp may have used the Red Sox to drive up the price but they were never realistically going to top the offer he inevitably accepted from the Dodgers. Boston coveted Seiya Suzuki but their interest wasn’t reciprocated by the Japanese star’s desire to play on the East coast. Kris Bryant was a potential fit but he was more interested in chasing dollar signs than championships.

The “Interest Kings” have allegedly been in the mix for all of these free agents but never seemed all that close to finishing the deal. It might be a different story with Story, assuming he’s open to playing second base. This rumor might have some legs for a few reasons.

He certainly won’t be a bargain but Story will be less expensive than Carlos Correa, both in terms of average annual value and total dollars. Unless his agent successfully brainwashes Correa into taking a one-year deal that allows Scott Boras to collect his full commission on a megadeal next year, but a return to Houston seems most likely in that scenario.

The Red Sox have Bogaerts covering shortstop for now with 2021 first-round pick Marcelo Mayer waiting to take over in a few years. They aren’t paying $300 million for a player who doesn’t fill a position of need and blocks their top prospect long-term.

They also aren’t asking the guy who won a Gold Glove award last season to move to another position to avoid upsetting the defensively-limited Bogaerts.

Story is also a better defensive shortstop than Bogaerts but he’s not on Correa’s elite level. Story spent time on the injured list last season with elbow inflammation and if there are any lingering concerns about that elbow, a position change might become necessary anyway. Shorter throws from second base would put less stress on the elbow, a potential selling point the Red Sox could use to convince Story to sign.

A corner outfielder is a more pressing need than shortstop or first base, which is why Suzuki or Bryant always made more sense than several of the other rumored targets. Now that both of them are off the market, the options are limited in free agency.

Nick Castellanos or Jorge Solar would add some thump to the lineup but they are both poor defensive players who would be biding their time in the outfield until J.D. Martinez’s contract expires after the season to create an opening in the designated hitter role. If Boston wasn’t willing to go that route to keep Kyle Schwarber from signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s hard to imagine they would do so for anyone else.

The trade market could produce some more appealing options but if Boston runs out of time to find a solution for right field, they might be stuck with Jackie Bradley Jr. as an everyday player. While his presence would improve the outfield defense, his anemic bat creates a black hole at the bottom of the lineup. If a defensive-minded outfielder creates a liability to the lineup, Boston needs to counter by upgrading the bat at another position. Putting Story at second base accomplishes that goal.

Story also provides the Red Sox with insurance in the event that Bogaerts opts-out with the intention of bolting next winter. Xander has made it clear that he wants to be in Boston and he’s expected to sign a new deal to stay with the Red Sox if he does exercise the opt-out clause. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan just in case though. If Bogaerts leaves, Story can slide back over to shortstop in 2023, providing Boston with a better replacement at the position than they could find in next year’s free-agent class. If Story shows the versatility to handle second base this year, there’s no long-term concern of him blocking Mayer.

He probably wasn’t their first choice but Story is arguably the best remaining option to upgrade the Red Sox lineup through free agency.

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