Nolan Arenado has been dealt to the Cardinals. Story, a free agent at the end of 2021, will be the next target of trade rumors. The Rockies are in a rebuild, and having got minimal return for Arenado, Story could be Colorado’s best path to restocking their farm.
The greatest compliment of Story’s game is that there was a debate over who the Rockies’ best player was at times over 2019 and 2020. Story has received MVP votes in each of the last three seasons. He’s an elite defender, one of the quickest players in the sport, and ranks alongside the best players in the game as a hitter.
The Rockies shortstop had a better wRC+ than Francisco Lindor since the start of 2019. He ranked in the 82nd percentile in outs above average in 2020. Sitting in the 95th percentile in sprint speed last season, Trea Turner is the only shortstop with more stolen bases over the last two seasons. Of everyday shortstops, only two (Marcus Semien and Xander Bogaerts) have a higher fWAR since the start of 2019.
Owed $18.5 million in 2021, a potential Story trade will require a front office with plenty of budget left over. Just as with Kris Bryant and Lindor, a trade ahead of his free agency is more justifiable if a contract extension can be agreed.
The Rockies could extend Story. Having offloaded Arenado’s contract, though, signing another high-AAV, long-term deal would be bizarre. They do not want to be in the same situation with Story in a year or two.
Potential trades destinations
Philadelphia has been the center of Story trade speculation thus far. The Phillies are yet to fill their void at shortstop, and Didi Gregorius reportedly wants $15 million per season. If they are willing to pay that for the former Yankee, then they clearly have the budget for Story. Of course, Story would cost prospects, too.
The Phillies still have prospects to deal. And, if the Rockies are so desperate to cut his salary, they might be able to acquire the All-Star shortstop at a bargain price. We’ve already seen several stars traded for low prices this offseason. Philadelphia running a line-up with Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Story would be impressive. They might be better served using their money and/or prospects on pitchers, though.
With so few teams willing to spend, there aren’t many obvious landing spots for Story.
The Cincinnati Reds would make sense, but they are unlikely to take on his salary, let alone extend him.
The Athletics need a Semien replacement. There’s no indication they are spending in 2021.
Only a handful of teams can claim Story would not be an upgrade. Every team has the prospects to get a deal done if Colorado is cutting dollars rather than rebuilding. So many are not going to even consider taking on his salary.
The Angels, having seen Andrelton Simmons leave, have plate appearances available in their infield. Story would add yet more depth to a line-up featuring Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Already third in payroll with over $160 million committed in 2021, will the Angels really take on Story’s contract and be able to agree an extension?
This latest Rockies trade saga is unlikely to end quickly. Landing spots are not exactly plentiful. Story’s future could come down to Philadelphia or Denver. Don’t rule out anything – the Rockies front office could yet extend their star shortstop, or even let him walk as a free agent.