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Yankees potential trade target: Trevor Story

The Rockies shortstop has one foot out the door — the question is where his other foot lands?

MLB: Home Run Derby Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There are four jerseys hanging in my closet — not my chest of drawers. Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, Mike Trout ... names that need no explanation. The fourth is a purple Trevor Story jersey, because I unabashedly love Trevor Story. There are few players in baseball that match his mix of power, speed and grace, and the ones that do — Trea Turner, Ronald Acuña Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. — aren’t going to be traded to the Yankees any time soon.

But Trevor Story will almost certainly be traded by the deadline. Colorado is in a terrible place for a franchise, without much talent at the major league level, and a mediocre at best farm system. They’re stuck in a division that will be competitive for a long time, and gave away one of the best players in franchise history over the winter. The only way for the franchise to set a real direction for itself would be to deal Story ahead of his impeding free agency.

I wrote over the winter about Story, and why his hitting profile makes sense for the Yankees. Yes, he plays at Coors Field. Yes, he has dramatic home/road splits. And yes, he’s had a season so far that’s not up to his standards. All of those things are true.

But a player exists in three dimensions. He creates runs at the plate, and on the bases, and he prevents runs in the field. Save enough runs in the field, and you can forgive offensive shortcomings. Create enough runs at the plate, and half the teams in baseball will literally pay you to never have to save runs at all. Trevor Story gives the Yankees something they don’t really have outside of Aaron Judge, and that’s a player that produces in all three dimensions.

Since the start of 2018, Story’s 118 wRC+ is better than Gleyber Torres, Francisco Lindor, and Tim Anderson. Yes, this year hasn’t been quite up to his standards, but his last full month, his 120 wRC+ reflected the kind of hitter he’s been for the past three years. Over that same time frame, his 82 stolen bases laps, and laps again, the Yankees team mark of 33. He’s successful almost exactly 80 percent of the time when stealing, and again, the Yankees as a club have been successful 73 percent of the time.

But it’s not just stolen bases. It’s smart, and aggressive baserunning. The Yankees have made 35 outs on the basepaths this year. Trevor Story has made 19 over the past four seasons. The Yankees take the extra base about a third of the time. Story, this season, advances an extra bag 61 percent of the time, and last year advanced 65 percent of the time. He is only one player, but completely changes the dynamics of a team that lumbers station-to-station.

Maybe that speed and daring fades as he gets older. Whether the Yankees bring Story in on a big deal in the offseason will dominate a lot of winter coverage. But that speed, aggressiveness, and skill isn’t disappearing in the remaining twelve weeks of the season. For 2021, Story wouldn’t just be the best baserunner on the Yankees, he would open up a totally different dimension of offense.

And of course, defensively Story is a top 10 shortstop in all of baseball, worth +19 Outs Above Average since the beginning of 2018. The Yankees at shortstop over that span? They’ve produced a grand total of -37 outs. This season alone, Story has been eight outs better than the current incumbent, Gleyber Torres.

So as we begin to see players in the three dimensions, you can start to see what Trevor Story brings to the Yankees. I expect him to hit better, one reason among many being that I’m sure it’s tough to focus when your organization has designated you as the next one out of town — one need only look at Story’s contemporary, Nolan Arenado, and his 76-to-120 wRC+ boost moving out of Denver.

But more than just the bat, Story represents everything the Yankees are currently not — athletic, aggressive on the bases with the ability to make it count, better than most at one of the most important defensive positions.

There will certainly be a bidding war for Story, which will make it tough on any one buyer. However, some of that upward pressure is mitigated by the fact that Colorado really needs to deal him — you can’t begin a rebuild with a compensation round draft pick. Greg Feasel needs to come away from the biggest deal of the summer with something to show for it. Trevor Story injects something into this roster they don’t have. His bat is going to come around. His defense and speed, for the rest of 2021, won’t slump. Go get him.