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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: Trevor Story

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He may be the only upgrade at shortstop left.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

If Trevor Story had had one of his typical seasons in 2021, he’d be going through a very different offseason than the one he is right now. If he had, he’d be looking for close to the sort of contract Corey Seager just got from the Texas Rangers, or whatever Carlos Correa is certain to receive. Instead, he appears likely to try and take a one-year deal, put up a big season, and then get one of those contracts for himself.

An elbow injury sustained in April may be the reason for his down numbers, plus the disappointment of not being traded off the Colorado Rockies’ sinking ship. That said, his 3.5 fWAR in 2021 was still certainly not bad. It just was not what Story or baseball fans were expecting, and it’s kept him in the second tier of free agent shortstops this winter.

The team that signs Story is going to be hoping for MVP-level value over a short-term commitment. In 2019, Story put up a whopping 6.0 fWAR, hitting 35 home runs. That power is simply not typical for shortstops. In fact, he’s the shortstop to reach 100 home runs in the shortest number of games. As you frequently see with power hitters, though, his strikeout numbers are high as well.

But that power sure is impressive:

After a season in which the Yankee offense seemed to be sleepwalking much of the time, a healthy and successful Story could certainly be a jolt. However, one thing the offense has never lacked for is home run potential. If the goal is a more well-rounded lineup, Story may not be the best fit.

A shortstop is also generally expected to field his position well, and Story’s defensive record is muddled. Baseball Savant put him in the 4th percentile in Outs Above Average in 2021 with -7, which is remarkably bad. On the other hand, both UZR and DRS had him as above average, as they have for each of the last three years. After a season of watching Gleyber Torres struggle in his ill-fated move to shortstop, the Yankees front office probably would like someone strong with the glove at such an important position. Story would make for an upgrade on Torres’ glove, though it’s hard to say by exactly how much.

Story is also already 29, so a short-term deal could be a lot more palatable for the Yankees than the decade-long one he maybe could have earned for himself with a great 2021. Power does not always age well as a skill, and his strikeout numbers also don’t bode well for his career into his thirties. A one-year contract where he recaptures his own form for one season while playing with the drive to prove himself should be reasonable to the suddenly cost-conscious Yankees.

But that also means that all the other teams who are looking for an offensive upgrade but don’t to get into the Correa bidding could be interested in him. A one-year contract is almost risk-free, so he will have options. If the Yankees want to pursue him, they’ll have to consider what he would add that they don’t already have, but the money he’ll ultimately end up signing for will (probably) not be the issue.