It’s fair to say that an upgrade at second base would be one of the top priorities of the offseason for the Boston Red Sox. I understand that every fan is going to want as much pitching depth as possible, but that’s for another post. If you do want to read about a pitcher, Steven Matz is one the Red Sox are reportedly looking into.
But in addition to the needs on the mound, Boston also has a clear hole to fill in the middle infield. Christian Arroyo is a solid big leaguer, but came into the season as a player with a long injury history and then was placed on the injured list four separate times in 2021 for four different reasons. It’s hard to go into 2022 expecting Arroyo to have a clean bill of health for 162 games. Fortunately for the Red Sox, the middle infield market features some of the best players in the game. This class of middle infielders is arguably the best group to hit free agency of all time.
Among those free agents in Trevor Story, a player who could be a significant upgrade for an infield that could certainly use that kind of boost. On top of his rare power and speed combination, Story is an elite defender. Since his first full season in the big leagues in 2017, Story ranks fourth among shortstops with 55 defensive runs saved. For reference, during that same span, Xander Bogaerts has -37 defensive runs saved, last among all major league shortstops.
For many, though, Story is known for his offensive prowess. The right-handed slugger hit .251 with 34 doubles, five triples, 24 home runs, 75 runs batted in, and an .801 OPS this past season, and that productive 2021 stat line is actually considered a down year for the 29-year-old, which could potentially hurt his stock this offseason and theoretically bring down his asking price.
Story really hit his stride from 2018 to 2020, where he hit a combined .292/.355/.554 over 361 games, equating to a .909 OPS. He’s also stolen 20+ bags over the last three full seasons and led the league with 15 steals in the shortened 2020 season.
MLB Trade Rumors projects that Story will receive a six-year, $126 million deal this offseason. For a player of his caliber, I would consider that to be a steal. Now, the accuracy of that projection remains to be seen, but if the actual deal is in that ballpark I would sign him today. Much like J.D. Martinez, it would feel like signing a $30 million average annual value caliber player for roughly $20 million. There is also the draft pick compensation to account for, but giving up a second rounder for this kind of talent is warranted, particularly with the team already having a couple of extra picks in that range from failing to sign Jud Fabian and as their compensation for losing Eduardo Rodriguez.
How would the former Rockie fit into the Red Sox lineup? That would be up to Alex Cora, but I could see Story being the one to uproot Bogaerts from shortstop for the first time since 2014. I’m not one of the analytics people demanding that Bogaerts has to move to second or third base. However, in this case, Story has a cannon and is best suited for the left side of the infield. Rafael Devers is not going anywhere, so those who want Bogaerts move could get their wish, potentially with the veteran moving to second base.
The goal of every offseason should be to improve the overall talent of the roster. While the addition of a shortstop is not a perfect fit, Trevor Story would make the roster better. No matter where the pieces fall, it would be nice to have two legitimate shortstops on the roster that can provide versatility to what would become a loaded infield.
The Red Sox will have to consider the future of Xander Bogaerts when making this decision. Bogaerts has an opt-out next offseason and a demotion to second base would likely impact his decision to continue his career in a Red Sox uniform. He’s been a cornerstone of the franchise so the team will hopefully have every intention of keeping him in Boston for as long as possible.
On the other hand, Bogaerts could accept the positional change like Marcus Semien did with Toronto this past year, which greatly improved his stock heading into free agency. After initially rejecting the idea, Semien eventually came around and was a very productive player for the Toronto Blue Jays last season.
In a perfect world, Story would be the one willing to sign on as a second baseman with the ability to play some shortstop on Bogaerts’ rest days. He’d be an insurance plan for a Bogaerts’ opt-out down the road and would improve the offense substantially.
Story did praise Bogaerts at the 2021 All-Star Game, saying “He’s so underrated it’s unbelievable.” He went on to applaud Bogaerts on both sides of the ball as well as his consistency. Maybe he’d be willing to move aside to play with him much like Javier Báez was willing to do for Francisco Lindor.
It sounds like Story’s hometown Texas Rangers may offer him the ability to be the face of a rebuilding franchise and there are plenty of other teams that will have interest as well. I’m not sure if he would be interested in potentially moving positions, but if the projected contracts are in the right ballpark I would expect Chaim Bloom to get involved, as well he should.