With Trevor Story still on the open market, there has been plenty of speculation about where (and how much, contract-wise) the All-Star will eventually land when the lockout is over. One of the larger factors in this discussion is whether or not a move to another position could be in the cards, should a team with an incumbent shortstop come calling about using Story as a second baseman, third baseman or perhaps even in the outfield.
From Story’s own perspective, however, he is focused on remaining at shortstop. According to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, “from everything I’ve been told, Story doesn’t want to switch positions,” though Saunders does add the caveat that it’s possible “that could change” depending on Story’s next destination.
Given that Story has played only shortstop (and a handful of DH games) over his six big league seasons, it obviously isn’t surprising that he would prefer to remain at the position, and would want to exhaust all possibilities in remaining a shortstop before considering a move elsewhere on the diamond. As Story and his representatives at Excel Sports Management would undoubtedly point out, a position change isn’t even necessary since Story is still a top-tier defensive shortstop, with +9 Defensive Runs Saved and +3.1 UZR/150 in 2021.
While DRS and UZR/150 have generally been favorable towards Story, however, the Outs Above Average metric tells another tale. As per OAA, Story was a league-average shortstop in 2020 (0.0) and then quite subpar in 2021 (-7). Since many teams have their own in-house methods of defensive evaluation, there could be quite a bit of variance from a club to club basis on whether or not Story is still a good fit at shortstop. Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reported in December that some scouts feel Story is ultimately a better second option than a shortstop over the long term, due to concerns over his throwing arm.
Divish’s report came within the context of the Mariners’ known interest in Story, and given Seattle’s expressed desire to keep J.P. Crawford at shortstop, the M’s would be one of the teams eyeing Story at other positions. The Mariners did address their second base need by acquiring Adam Frazier prior to the lockout, but theoretically, Frazier could be moved to the outfield or into a super-utility role if the M’s did add Story or another second base-capable starter.
If Story insists on remaining at shortstop, his list of potential new teams will shrink to some extent, though there are still quite a few teams (i.e. the Astros, Twins, Angels, Phillies, Yankees, Nationals, Cubs) who have clear needs at shortstop or have been linked to this offseason’s busy shortstop market in one regard or another. It’s also possible that another team might make a position switch of their own to accommodate Story — for instance, the Red Sox were known to have some interest in Story’s services, and Story is a much better defensive shortstop than Xander Bogaerts. Since Bogaerts can opt out of his contract following the 2022 season, Boston might want to get an early jump on preparing for a post-Bogaerts roster.
As much as Story would naturally want to stay at shortstop, it can’t be ruled out that the market will ultimately make that decision for him. Story’s market is complicated by several factors — the draft pick compensation attached to him via his rejection of the Rockies’ qualifying offer, Carlos Correa’s presence as another major available shortstop, possible changes to baseball’s business model in the new CBA, the overall uncertainty of the lockout, and how wild the transactions frenzy will be when teams are finally allowed to make moves again. If the richest multi-year offers (MLBTR projected Story for six years and $126MM) are only coming from teams that want Story at another position, he might accept the move off shortstop if it’s his only path to a big payday.
On the flip side, Story might opt for something of a hedge in the form of a short-term position change. If he accepted a one-year deal to join a team as their new second baseman or third baseman, Story could re-enter the market next winter with the hopes of finally scoring that larger contract on the heels of a better platform year. It would be similar to Marcus Semien’s tactic of taking a one-year deal from the Blue Jays last offseason, enjoying a huge 2021 season, and then signing with the Rangers for seven years and $175MM. It should be noted that Semien didn’t actually return to being a shortstop, of course, as he’ll line up at second base again since Texas also signed Corey Seager.
Still, Story might prefer his luck next offseason in a free agent market that isn’t quite as loaded as this year for premium shortstop talent. The 2022-23 class does have such prominent names as Bogaerts (if he opts out), Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, and theoretically Tim Anderson, though right now it seems very likely that the White Sox will exercise their $12.5MM club option on Anderson for 2023. As mentioned earlier, joining a team like Bogaerts’ Red Sox or even Turner’s Dodgers could be a possibility for Story if those teams feel they won’t be retaining their incumbent shortstops.