We are in a desert of baseball news at the moment, what with the league locking out the players and putting a freeze on transactions until a new collective bargaining agreement can be agreed to, so any time we can get any bit of actually interesting news to talk about it’s a good day. Today is a good day, with a couple of notable Boston Red Sox stories coming to light early in this first full week of the transaction freeze.
Red Sox reportedly have shown interest in Trevor Story
We start off with an interesting free agent connection, as Jon Heyman is reporting that Boston is among the teams to have shown interest in former Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. The idea would potentially be to shift him over to second base with Xander Bogaerts sticking at shortstop. We should of course mention the usual caveats that we don’t know just how interested the Red Sox have been, and these reports can always be from the agent side trying to drum up more competition for their client. Still, Story is one of the top free agents on the board this winter (projected by MLB Trade Rumors for a six-year, $126 million deal), so any interest from Boston in that tier is going to draw a response.
It does seem to be a bit of a strange fit if we are assuming that the Red Sox are only going to target one relatively big free agent. That’s been my guess all along, and while I would have most preferred that going to a starting pitcher, even now I’d prefer it to fill an outfield spot. We don’t actually know the plan though, so if they would be willing to do this deal and sign, say, Seiya Suzuki in the outfield, then I would be thrilled.
That said, there is some concern with Story, who is coming offa down season with the Rockies. This past season the infielder hit .251/.329/.471 for a perfectly average 100 wRC+, and also suffered an elbow injury that seemed to affect his throwing arm. That latter part could point to why he would play second base over Bogaerts despite the latter not generally being viewed as a great shortstop. Story does bring legitimate power at the plate and provides a right-handed bat that Boston is looking for, but his plate discipline forces a lot of his profile to rely on batted ball fortune. If I were going to target one of the big free agent infielders I’d much prefer Carlos Correa.
It is possible that Story could be looking for a one-year deal to rebuild some value, but he also has draft pick compensation attached. The Red Sox are in a good position to give up a draft pick this year with a couple of extra picks in that second round range after not signing Jud Fabian last year and also getting one back as compensation for losing Eduardo Rodriguez. Even so, I’d prefer to give up that pick for more than one season, if possible.
Ultimately, this really comes down to how many big contracts the Red Sox are willing to give out this year. I’ve been on board with the idea that they should upgrade at second base all winter, and Story would certainly represent that. However, I think outfield help is a bigger need for this roster. So if my suspicions are correct and only one big contract is going to be doled out this winter, I’d prefer it to go out on the grass. But if I’m wrong and they are willing to make a couple of moves to improve this lineup, then Story could be an interesting fit, even coming off the down year.
Will Venable to interview for Oakland Athletics managerial opening
One thing that is allowed to continue during this lockout is coaching staff changes, since obviously coaches are not part of the players union. A couple of teams — the Athletics and New York Mets — are still looking to fill their managerial openings. Early in the offseason when positions started to open up, we’d mentioned that Venable seemed like a good bet to be involved in some of these talks, and indeed he is, as was reported Monday night. Chris Cotillo reports the interview has yet to happen.
We should note that the list of candidates being interviewed does seem on the larger side, with the initial report naming six candidates, including a couple of internal candidates. Those who have spent time with Oakland should be viewed in a positive light given the team’s success while they were there. Still, Venable is certainly a serious candidate and it shouldn’t be a surprise if he does get the gig. He was seen as a young up-and-comer a couple of years ago and even interviewed with the Red Sox for the manager gig before taking the bench coach role. Since then, he served as the number two in the dugout for one of the most surprisingly successful teams of 2021. If he doesn’t get this job, his first chance in the top chair shouldn’t be too far out.