MLB free agency: Red Sox, Trevor Story agree to deal, reportedly for six years, $140 million

Free-agent shortstop Trevor Story has reached an agreement with the Boston Red Sox, confirms Jim Bowden of CBS Sports HQ.  Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the deal is for six years and $140 million. The deal includes an opt-out clause for Story after the fourth year, per Jeff Passan of ESPN

Story, 29 years old, entered free agency on a down note. He had his worst offensive showing in years last season, batting .251/.329/.471 (103 OPS+) with 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases (on 26 tries) while spending the entire season with the Colorado Rockies. That, plus questions about his long-term position stemming from a decline in arm strength, caused CBS Sports to rank him as the 11th best free agent available entering the offseason. Here’s what we wrote:

If you scroll through Story’s Baseball-Reference page, you’ll click away thinking his offense underwhelmed while his defense remained rock solid in his walk year. The truth is the opposite. Story’s topline results at the plate were his worst in years, but his underlying measures (exit velocity and launch-angle bins) aligned with his 2019-20 campaigns just fine. The area where decline was most evident with his game was in the field, particularly his arm. He made nearly as many throwing errors last season (11) as he did the previous two years combined (12). Perhaps the offseason will allow Story to rest his weary elbow, yet some teams may already view him as a second baseman. (Heck, one team was reportedly interested in making him a center fielder at the deadline.) Factor in the lingering concerns about his home/road splits (over the last three seasons his OPS was more than 200 points higher at Coors Field) and the bloated shortstop market, and he might end up serving as the winter’s Marcus Semien, settling for a pillow contract before landing the mattress next year.

Story will now get a chance to reestablish himself as an All-Star. He made the team in 2018 and 2019. He’s finished in the top 12 of MVP voting three times. In 2018-20, he hit a combined .292/.355/.554 (123 OPS+) while posting 162-game averages of 42 doubles, seven triples, 37 homers, 99 RBI, 108 runs, 29 steals and 6.5 WAR. 

Landing with the Red Sox should help alleviate concerns about Story’s arm. They have Xander Bogearts firmly entrenched at shortstop and Rafael Devers at third. The hole is at second base, so that’s where Story fits. 

Speaking of fits, Story might work best on the Red Sox as a leadoff hitter. He’s only done so 24 games in his career, though he’s hit second more than any other spot. A Red Sox Opening Day lineup could look something like this: 

  1. Trevor Story, 2B
  2. Rafael Devers, 3B
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH
  5. Alex Verdugo, LF
  6. Bobby Dalbec, 1B
  7. Enrique Hernandez, CF
  8. Christian Vázquez, C
  9. Jackie Bradley, Jr., RF

The Red Sox are going to have their hands full in the AL East, again. Four teams won 91-plus games last season and those four (Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays) look like contenders again. SportsLine simulations now have the Red Sox winning 84.1 games (up from 81.9, before Story signed) with a 47.8 percent chance to make the playoffs (up from 38.4). 

CBS Sports’ Fantasy Baseball Today podcast broke down the Story signing on an emergency episode. Listen below:

As for free agency, the frenzy of post-lockout signings is coming to a close. Of the CBS Sports initial top 50 free agents heading into the offseason, outfielder Michael Conforto at No. 23 is the best player remaining. Next? Outfielder Tommy Pham at No. 46 — unless Kyle Seager (38) decides to unretire. Regardless, the free-agent shopping is just about over. 

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