Yankees Trade Target: Trevor Story

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You know the drill, the Yankees need some help and they need it fast. A good option to start addressing those needs is no other than arguably the best position player available in the market right now. It’s Trevor Story-time!

Background & Performance

Story is a 28 year-old (turns 29 in November) shortstop, who has started there for the Colorado Rockies since his MLB debut in 2016, and with good reason. He is on the really short list of best shortstops in baseball ever since that year. How is he so good then? Let’s take a deeper look at him, shall we?

The right-handed hitting Story has a career .273/.339/.521 (110 wRC+) slash line, good for a .361 wOBA. In that time, he has accumulated a magnificent 24.2 bWAR value. That bWAR total represents a 5.43 bWAR per 650 PA (a proxy for full season), which is a value put up by no-doubt All-Stars every year.

Additionally, if we zoom in a little bit in his past 3 seasons — 2018, 2019, 2020 — we can see that he’s had WAR/650 PA values of 6.14, 6.94, and 6.53. That works out for a 6.54 WAR per season value, and that my friend is approaching upper-echelon level All-Stars now. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

The Offense

The not-so-cool part of the story (pun intended) is that he has been slumping with the stick this year. He has slashed .242/.313/.425 (82 wRC+) this year, that’s good enough (?) for a .316 wOBA. A far cry to the average of .380 he has for the past 3 seasons when weighting for batted balls. The good news here is that there a no apparent warning signs for that slump.

It looks to be the good old BABIP gods doing a number on him. This year, he has a .285 BABIP, that’s a full 0.054 points lower than his career average of .339. Additionally, there are no highly concerning signs in his batted ball profile. His exit velo is perfectly at his career average of 90.6 — that is in the 72nd percentile this season — and is his launch angle that is literally at his career average of 17.8 degrees. His GB% of 35.7 is a career-high, but by the measly sum of 0.02 over the value he had in his amazing 2018 season. He is pulling, going straightaway, or to the opposite field basically the same as his career rates. His Barrel % (best possible hit outcome in terms of exit velo and launch angle) is right around his average of the last 3 seasons as well.

It’s not as if he lost his wheels either, he’s in the 89th percentile of the league in terms of Sprint Speed. So, what it’s the problem here? Maybe a career-low LD%, or a career-high of topped balls. But honestly, those seem a bit of a reach to me. I’m willing to chalk this one up to baseball variance weirdness. It is also interesting to note that he has consistently outperformed his xwOBA every single year of his career except this one: It looks as if this is just an outlier year for him and that there is something the xwOBA model is not picking up with him in their predictions.

In terms of plate discipline, the progression is pretty good as well. He started his career a little bit of a hacker, but take a look at this:

He is not the best at avoiding Ks — he’s is actually in the 37th percentile of the league this season –, but he has managed to work from a 30+ K% to the low 20’s this year. Additionally, his BB% has been steadily around his career average of 8.4. This season he’s even above that with an 8.7% value that is right around the league’s medium.

Also, I’m not concerned at all about the Coors effect. It does inflate his home numbers, but it really worsens the on-the-road number for all players. This can be due to the fact that pitches work differently in the Coors altitude so the batter’s eyes have to adapt to that every time they go on the road. You can read more about that from the great Mike Petriello in this article.

If it isn’t abundantly clear from this whole section, I really like his bat and think this season has been an anomaly with some big-time possibility of regression to the mean improvements in the second half. And if I haven’t convinced you yet with the bat, let’s go to the other side of the field.

The Defense

He has played every single inning of his career fielding as a SS, so there is no funky business when looking at his Baseball Savant’s OAA metrics. According to that stat, he has consistently been saving outs at his position except for a weird -5 value in 2018. The percentile rankings of every season except that 2018 weird one are beautiful, take a look:

Story’s OAA values since 2016 taken from Baseball Savant
Story’s OAA percentiles since 2017 taken from Baseball Savant

I’m willing to chalk that the 2018 year as an outlier and say that Story is always in the range of pretty fricking good SS to elite defensive SS.

When you add that he would be replacing Gleyber Torres -5 OAA this season at SS, the difference between those 2 this season is practically the same as what the 5th best SS in the league has accumulated this year (Kevin Newman of the Pirates). The difference would be pretty evident right from the beginning.

As yours truly mentioned in last Friday’s mailbag, my preferred infield would be with him as the SS, and Gleyber & DJ sliding to 2B and 1B respectively. This might create a problem at 2B but DJ hasn’t been killing it there this year either and he would be a huge upgrade to whatever they can put at 1B.

It is worth highlighting here that there is a lot of buzz about the possibility of Story playing CF, this is based on that the dude is legit fast as said before. It seems like the Padres and Dodgers were both willing to go that route and those are two pretty smart teams. Positional defensive versatility it’s always welcomed on this team, especially considering their propensity to injuries. And about that nasty little subject.

Injury History

He has been pretty healthy for his career (Yay!). Going to the injured list just three times in his career. Two thumb injuries after sliding headfirst into second — Let’s get those running gloves readymade Trevor! — in 2016 where he required surgery and his rookie season was done by July 31, and in 2019 where he missed around 14 days. His one other injury list stint was a left shoulder strain on a swing that put him out of action for 15 days.

Other than that the most concerning thing would be an elbow strain throwing to first in 2018 that didn’t require any lost time.

Sounds good to me in this regard, though he did get hit by a Shohei Ohtani pitch in the hand last night. We’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Contract

Story is signed through this year for $17.5M but a luxury tax hit of 13.75M. He is therefore a rental and not a cheap one, but as we’ve said many times in this blog, there is no reason for the Yankees to be below the luxury tax cap. They shouldn’t let that cap hit let in the way of such a clear upgrade to the talent on the field if you ask me.

Additionally, this might be a rental but they could also try to work out an extension for the next few years before he hits free agency. That’s most definitely not a given but it is good to have that leg up the competition for him.

What would a trade look like?

Trade Deadline Rentals are notoriously cheap the last few years, even elite players like Yu Darvish or Manny Machado barely get global top 100 prospects. The last Trade Deadline rental deals that brought global top 50 prospects were the Aroldis Chapman & Andrew Miller Yankees trades in 2016. And that was a really special situation where the Yankees had cornered the market for elite relievers.

Here is a thread I did recently talking about this situation with all the notable trade deadline rentals since 2017 in the last tweet:

Thread on rental trades:

I’ve been seeing a lot of people scared of a possible Story trade because “he will cost a lot”. I couldn’t disagree more to that statement. He’s a rental, rental have been notorious the last few years for bringing low prospect value the other way.

The last rental trades that brought legit top 50 MLB global prospects were in 2016! The Chapman and Miller trades that were a special situation because relievers were in high demand and the Yankees had the market cornered with those 2.

Since those trades only two have brought even a global top 100 prospect. Yu Darvish and Manny Machado in 17’ and 18’, and those were barely cracking those lists (Díaz for Machado, and Calhoun for Darvish).

Trying to predict the players sent in a possible Yankees trade is really hard to do (we don’t know how other team see our guys). But I’m pretty confident that the price won’t be high.

I actually did a quick investigation on the last few years rental trades, here is a really quick summary just to keep in mind. Some really cheap trades there!

With that in mind seems like a Global top 100 prospect and a few fillers would do the trade. Definitely not a prohibiting cost.

As the motto for River Ave Blues and Views goes: “My trade proposals suck”, and “We don’t know how other teams value your guys in a trade”. Here is a go using the great baseball trade values simulator and previous history of rentals:

This might be tagged as minor overpay, but I think Ezequiel Durán is among a crop of much more promising middle infielders in the farm and therefore is easily tradeable. Kyle Holder is a guy with practically no shot at making the 40-man roster this offseason so might as well let him try it out in Colorado.

You can switch Durán for Kevin Alcántara and that trade works as well but personally, I value Alcántara higher due to what I consider a bigger upside.

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9 Comments

  1. HenryKrinkle

    Holder has no trade value at this point. He’s 27, and I think a minor league FA at season’s end. But I’m not interested in Story anyway.

  2. Story seems off this year and DJ at first doesn’t do it for me. How about the same players for Rizzo or Santana? That would give the team the impact left handed ( or switch hitter in Santana’s case) bat they need to drive in runs. Then make a trade for Marte and you have a whole different team. Speed and contact at the top. Rizzo or Santana hitting third in between Judge and Stanton.

  3. Luke

    Story would no doubt help the Yankees, but what’s the point for a team that is going nowhere fast and can just sign him as a free agent in 2022?

    Only way this makes sense, is if Yankees do their homework (I.e., talk to Story’s agent behind the scenes) and find out that he’s willing to do an extension early–giving them a leg up against other suitors.

  4. chip56

    Give me Story and Hosmer

  5. Dani

    Pass. Get him for free in the winter.

  6. Esteddardban Florial

    As a rental he makes no sense, Jamie, because this current club ain’t going anywhere. And we should be selling, not buying. If they extend him he’d be an upgrade at SS over Gleyber because Gleyber is not a major league SS. They can move Gleyber to 2B, DJ to 1B and trade Luke Voit for two oxen. Or keep Voit as your main DH and force the meek Stanton into LF. But as a rental to win now it’d be easier to just bring the ’27 roster back from the dead than to try to prop up this clown show.

    • Billy

      Who are they selling? What players are they trading away that actually has plus value at the moment? Gleyber? Gio? This is what I don’t understand from fans who are calling for the team to sell. They have no one to sell!

      • Esteddardban Florial

        Sell em all, Billy. Anybody and everybody should go from Aaron Judge all the way down to Tyler Wade. Cash should be calling clubs right now asking what can we get for Gio? What can we get for Chappy? What can we get for Wade? If they say “a bucket of chewed gum” take it before they change their minds!

        • Billy

          Chappy? They’d have to pay to get rid of him. Britton? They’d pay to get rid of him. Wade? He’ll be DFA’d before traded for anybody. You want to tear it all the way down and get rid of the few guys who have surplus value like Judge, Green and Gio? So who replaces them? Florial and Armando Alvarez?

          By the way, if you don’t think Cashman hasn’t already explored the value of his players then I think you underestimate the diligence they do. He explored Judge’s value in the offseason and I’m sure he’s done so already again prior to the deadline. It’s not Cashman’s call to sell Judge, Green, Gio, etc. That’s on Hal and obviously he’s not taking a hit to the bottom line…

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