Red Sox

On second thought, the Trevor Story signing looks like a great move by the Red Sox

Frank Franklin II
There may be an adjustment period for Trevor Story as he moves to second base, but that's OK.


If you value credibility in this sports opinion game, you have to sprinkle some salt on your misguided takes, gulp ‘em down, and admit you were wrong.

It gets easier with practice, of which I have plenty. As it turns out, the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton in December 2017 did not doom the Red Sox to also-ran status in the American League East. Swung and missed on that one.

Pretty sure I added another gem to the Dubious Takes greatest hits collection when I tweeted this at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, after former Astros shortstop Carlos Correa agreed to a three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Twins:

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“Trevor Story’s top career statistical comp is Carlos Correa. I’d much, much prefer Correa. Great deal for the Twins. Story is only a month and a half younger than Bogaerts. Career .241/.310/.442 slash line away from Coors. The Sox had better spend on stars. This isn’t the one.”

Less than 18 hours later, imagine my surprise when word came down that Story indeed was the one. The two-time All-Star shortstop reached an agreement with the Red Sox on a six-year, $140 million contract that includes an opt-out after the fourth season. He will move to second base, with Xander Bogaerts remaining at shortstop.

The signing wasn’t a total surprise — reports had the Red Sox in the mix, along with the Astros, Yankees, and Rangers — but the very reasonable terms of the contract were.

With its $23.3 million average annual value, the deal looks like a relative bargain given Story’s production (he averages 34 home runs and 22 stolen bases per 162 games, with a career .523 slugging percentage) and the going rate for some of his peers this offseason. Corey Seager, who is 17 months younger and slightly more productive (131 career OPS+ to Story’s 112), got 10 years and $325 million from the Rangers in December.

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So, I’m the guy who went on record not wanting the Red Sox to sign Story, but approving when they actually did it. That would seem the definition of hypocrisy, and I’ll accept the arrows on that, but the truth is I didn’t recognize — and I’m almost sorry about the utter lack of pun restraint here — the whole story.

His career road splits — .241 batting average, .310 on-base percentage, .442 slugging percentage, and 63 home runs in 1,544 plate appearances — are not pretty. They basically suggest Story is the equivalent of 2018 Paul DeJong (.241/.313/.433, 19 homers in 490 plate appearances) or 2002 Aaron Boone (.241/.314/.439, 26 homers in 685 plate appearances) when he’s playing away from the thin air and wide-open spaces of Coors Field.

There’s still some reason for concern about that. Just not nearly as much as I thought when I fired off that tweet Saturday. As some helpful readers pointed out, Story’s spray charts suggest he is going to be a monster at Fenway Park, and in AL East ballparks in general.

There is also plenty of evidence, much of it uncovered via the research of MLB.com’s excellent Mike Petriello, that players’ road stats typically improve once they leave the Rockies. Nolan Arenado and D.J. LeMahieu have both thrived — and found more balance in their splits — after joining teams that play in more conventional and consistent conditions. Story is going to put some dents in the Green Monster, and launch more than his share of baseballs over it.

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Signing Story should work, and really well. With one move, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom filled three needs: righthanded pop, improved infield defense (even if there’s an adjustment period to second base), and speed. If only Story could also play right field and pitch.

Bloom also bludgeoned the narrative that the Red Sox would no longer spend big money on star players, which is a relief. It would have been absurd for a franchise with the Red Sox’ passionate following and financial means to habitually shun big stars and big salaries.

Bloom set up the ball club well in both the present and future. The Red Sox have an exceptional middle infield right now, and should Bogaerts exercise his right to opt out after this season, Story can move back to his natural position while top prospect Marcelo Mayer ascends through the farm system.

I do hope this isn’t a precursor to Bogaerts’s departure after the season. To me, the original skeptic, that’s the only lingering downside to acquiring Story. Bogaerts has been a model Red Sox player and representative of the organization. He grew up in their farm system, did everything right, became an All-Star and a respected leader, and achieved multiple individual and team milestones.

He should be like Robin Yount and Alan Trammell, or Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter — a franchise cornerstone who never plays anywhere else.

As someone who was scarred by the departures of boyhood favorites Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, and Butch Hobson after the 1980 season, perhaps I prioritize retaining homegrown stars more than most. The best-case scenario may be for Bogaerts, a mediocre defender who will have to move off shortstop someday, to stay with the Sox but switch positions down the road, sort of like Yount, who moved to center field in 1985 and won his second MVP award four years later.

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It is a tribute to his priorities that Bogaerts helped recruit Story to the Red Sox. Hopefully, they’ll be teammates for seasons to come. I’m skeptical that it plays out that way. I’d be glad to be wrong about this, too.

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