I’m just as frustrated as he is probably about the Yankees sitting on the sidelines during the recent Free Agent frenzy. Nearly all of the top short stops are off the board, with Cory Seeger and Marcus Simin going to Texas and Javier Baez bound for Detroit. The best starting pitchers are gone, too. However, there are still two big name shorts that the Yankees can get their hands on: Carlos Correa and the subject of today’s post, The Trevor Story.
Now, am I confident that the Yankees are really playing at the top of the Story Market (or Korea)? Not much at the moment. Although Brian Cashman has telegraphed the team’s intent to spend and tackle the short layover position, there have now been reports over the past two weeks that the Yankees are likely to go the interim route. I hope this isn’t true given the availability of Korea and Story. However, I find it difficult to give the Yankees the benefit of the doubt given the behavior of recent seasons.
However, until the ink has dried on a new contract, the Yankees won’t necessarily get out of the story. We already know there was interest in Shortstop – the team wanted to trade for him on deadline and Jaime cleared it afterwards – but the Rockies stumbled all over the place instead. Colorado will get some compensation once he’s signed elsewhere because Storey turned down the qualifying offer, but perhaps the final deal would have suited them better. Anyway, the time has come and gone, so let’s move on to our free agency story predictions.
The story hails from Irving, Texas, which is located outside of Dallas. He had a chance to be a sports star in high school, football was the second sport. He was a quarterback during his sophomore year, which is no small matter considering the popularity of high school football at the Lone Star State. Baseball became his focus though, and eventually, resulted in a scholarship to LSU. The story didn’t live up to that commitment, and instead, I became a pro when the Rockies drafted him with the team’s 45th overall pick. The story took place for $915,000.
The 29-year-old grew up a Rangers fan. It makes sense, given the proximity of his childhood home to Dallas and Arlington. Unless the Rangers shock the rest of the baseball world again, though, Homecoming doesn’t look like it will happen. Seeger and Simin now occupy the central region of the Rangers.
Colorado took his time developing Story, which he spent 2011 through 2015 at the mansion. It’s not like there was much rush anyway, considering that Troy Tolovetsky was at the time at the height of his work. Story had an up and down track in the juniors, and while he was a good prospect throughout his time in the system, he only earned a Top 100 recognition once (prior to 2013 via Baseball America).
Story absolutely dominated A-ball in 2012, and had his first taste with the full season ball, and then the BA recognition. However, he really struggled at High-A in 2013, and again after being promoted to Double-A in 2014. However, he mastered Double-A in 2015 and played fairly well in Triple-A on promotion. Also, he debuted in the major league in 2016.
The Rockies traded Tulo to Blue Jays in mid-2015, opening a short position for Story. He was selected as an out-of-camp rookie in 2016 and had a very good year, finishing fourth on the ROY poll. That year was cut short due to injury, but he still shot 27 players in just 97 games.
Storey had a sophomore slump in 2017 (82 WRC+, 34.4 percent strike rate), but that proved to be an anomaly. From 2018 through 2020, the shortcut stopped hitting big, got a lot of power, stole the bases, and played great defense. In short: .292/.355/.554 (124 wRC+), 83 home runs, 65 steals and a 25.8 percent strike rate in 1,571 board appearances. He was an All-Star in ’18 and ’19 and was no worse than 12 in the MVP vote.
But the story has fallen a bit aggressive this year. He hit .251/.329/.471 (100 wRC+) with 24 homers and 20 steals in 595 plate appearances, although he improved his strike rate (23.4 percent). He was much better in the last two months of the season at least. Story registered 125 wRC+ from August onwards after 85 wRC+ through July. That is, despite the elbow issue which I will touch on for a moment.
Now, Story is the poster boy for the big splits between home and road as a member of the Rocky Mountains. He’s aged 303/ .369/ .603 (125 wRC+) at Coors Field, albeit hitting .241/ .310/ .442 (98 wRC+) far from friendly. This is worrisome at first glance, but Mike Petrillo has allayed some concerns about this on two occasions (articles in 2015 and 2020).
On the other side of the field, Story has an excellent defensive reputation. Now, this year hasn’t been his best considering his subsequent elbow and ejaculation issues, but he had a +24 OAA age entering 2021, ahead of his -7 mark this season. DRS likes it more: +69 (beautiful). Finally, there are a few questions about Story’s defensive ability, provided his elbow is already fine.
Story had two perfectly healthy seasons in the league: 2018 and 2020. However, only one injury kept the short-lived player out for an extended period, throughout his return in the junior season. That year, Storey ruptured his left thumb ligaments, forcing him to miss August and September.
Since then, the 29-year-old has had minor injuries before spooking his elbow this season. In 2017, he missed 13 days due to a strain in his left shoulder. In 2019, he missed 12 days due to a sprained right thumb. None of these injuries, along with a ligament tear in 2016, seem to have troubled him later in his career.
Now, for the elephant in the room: the story facility. Back in May, Storey was knocked out of a game against the Mets in the Queens after a throw in his first gig. Went to injured list, missed 13 days, but MRI came back clean. Finally, Storey is still playing 142 games this season although his elbow is clearly bothering him.
As the video depicts, his toss were often unsightly after the injury. And for further evidence, his arm strength wasn’t there:
Too fast and sloppy b/c I don’t have time for more but every story has thrown up 74+ over the past few years (without trying to discern the intent) and I’ll hear there are some “intents” in this pic.twitter.com/3GkW9aTpzR– Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) October 28, 2021
All told, Randy has good authority that Storey has recovered.
Hopefully, a comfortable rest season will allow Story to prove his arm is fine on his debut in 2022.
Does it make sense for the Yankees?
If the Yankees can’t defeat Korea, then yes. The team can’t afford to walk away from this winter’s short-lived free worker crop empty-handed. The story has a chance of being a bargain, in fact, relatively speaking. If he continues to perform to the level of 2018-2020 and remains healthy, we would be talking about another $200 million contract. Instead, he’s likely to get something in between what Baez and Simin got.
Personally, I was hesitant about Story the whole time due to attachment issues. However, there is a good chance that he will outperform the rest of the Free Agent class in 2022. He was a 5-6 year player from 2018 to 2020, and tied with Xander Bogaerts in the second biggest fWAR race (Francisco Lindor was first) in those three Years. By baseball’s WAR benchmark, it was the best stopping point of the period. If his elbow is fine and 2021 is just a passing picture, Story might be the best option in 2022.