Alex Cora announcement could complicate Trevor Story’s future with Red Sox

Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Guardians
Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Guardians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages

Infield defense has presented itself as the biggest issue in the Boston Red Sox lineup in 2024. After Boston's starting pitching has been lights-out to start the season and Trevor Story's campaign ended due to injury, sloppy infield defense has been the culprit in many of its losses.

Before the finale of their second series against the MLB-leading Cleveland Guardians, Red Sox skipper Alex Cora formally announced a change to his team's usual defensive alignment.

Ever since Rob Refsnyder's return to the lineup, Boston has a surplus of outfielders to cycle in and out of play. Tyler O'Neill has been on a tear at the plate, Wilyer Abreu has made some outstanding plays in the outfield and he's been mashing, and Refsnyder has been swinging a hot bat himself — it isn't in Cora's best interest to sit his streaking hitters.

The manager told WEEI's Rob Bradford that Ceddanne Rafaela, speed merchant and defensive savant, will serve as the Sox's everyday shortstop.

Rafaela is a natural shortstop and he's known for his athleticism and defensive versatility. Previously, the Sox transitioned the rookie to the outfield to accommodate for the slew of shortstops and middle infielders in Boston's system, and he took to the pastures well. After the loss of Story for yet another season, though, Rafaela's services are needed in the middle infield again.

His transition has been paying off. The Red Sox are now 4-0 when Rafaela spends an entire game at shortstop. Boston's other options are error-prone, to say the least, so this is "the move."

Ceddanne Rafaela taking over as Red Sox everyday shortstop could mean trouble for Trevor Story next season

But Rafaela's skill could mean trouble for Story, and Rafaela is far from the best shortstop rising through the ranks in the Sox's system.

The veteran shortstop was an electric part of Boston's defense at the beginning of the slate, but that's been his pattern in three seasons with the team. Story struggles to stay healthy — mostly through freak injuries, which are not his fault — and he's one of the most expensive members of this Red Sox club. He may be in danger of being traded next season if Rafaela continues to pay off at short and if Marcelo Mayer cracks the roster within the year.

There's little-to-no chance that Story returns to the lineup in 2024, so Boston needed to make a choice on an everyday shortstop. But Rafaela's skill and versatility alongside the rest of the Red Sox's up-and-coming talent could mean trouble for Story's spot on the roster next year.

More Red Sox reads: