The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly pursuing a trade for Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, among other options they are exploring to fill their shortstop position, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
Cincinnati saw action at shortstop in 2020 from Freddy Galvis and Jose Garcia. Galvis was viewed as more of a stop-gap solution rather than a building block, and on top of that, the switch hitter is also a free agent. For Garcia, the team still believes that he could be the future at the position. But for the 2021 season, Garcia probably isn’t going to be ready to be an every day player. While his defense was clearly ready for the big leagues, his bat in the 2020 season showed that he needed more time. That’s not really on him – he had previously topped out in Advanced-A and that’s a pretty big jump for anyone to make.
The Reds have seemingly been chasing Francisco Lindor in trade for two decades, or so it feels like, and a deal hasn’t come to fruition. There are also more than a few quality options on the free agent market with big leaguers Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien, and Andrelton Simmons. And there’s also Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who was just posted on Thanksgiving and has until Christmas day to reach an agreement with a Major League Baseball team.
Trevor Story is closer to the Francisco Lindor situation than that of the free agent options. He’s one of the best hitting shortstops in the league, but also a quality defender. Over the last three seasons he has hit .292/.355/.554 for the Rockies – good for a 122 OPS+. In the shortened 2020 season he also led the National League in strikeouts with 15 steals in 18 attempts. Like Lindor, he’ll be a free agent after the 2021 season. He is also owed $18,500,000 in salary for the 2021 season. That’s a big chunk of change for the Reds to take on.
Adding Trevor Story is going to make any team better. That is, unless the acquisition cost is too high. We can’t be sure what the market is right now because there hasn’t really been much happening so far and in a year in which teams seem to want to move salary so much so that there are rumors that the Cubs could potentially non-tender Kris Bryant just to save the money from paying his salary, anything seems remotely possible.
If the Reds have to give up Sonny Gray, for example, then the acquisition of a Trevor Story caliber player doesn’t really move the needle that much it at all. If the acquisition cost is more of a “prospect haul”, then the 2021 team gets better and you have to reassess the future without those players and figure that out down the line.
What this move would do is help transform the offense. Story has plenty of swing-and-miss to his game, which is something the Reds already have plenty of. But he’s also a guy who has plenty of power in his bat, adds speed and athleticism, and of course, plays a position of need. His base running has been elite over the last two seasons, trailing just Jonathan Villar and Ronald Acuna Jr in all of Major League Baseball according to Fangraphs Base Running metric.
Many have pointed out that Story, along with many other Rockies players have big home/road splits. Of course they do, the home ballpark is as hitter friendly as any that’s ever existed in Major League Baseball. When we tend to look only at the road splits for Rockies hitters, though, it seems to be missing some context – there’s more at play than just taking their road numbers and saying “this is what we should expect from them when they leave”. We know that’s not true and there are countless examples (DJ LeMahieu being the most recent, but hardly the first or only).
Mike Petriello of MLB.com looked at it, again, last week when discussing Nolan Arenado and what he could potentially look like in another ballpark. Petriello notes that it’s actually likely, based on past information, that Arenado (and other former Rockies) would perform better on the road once they left Colorado than they did when they were in Colorado due to the “Coors Field hangover”.