The Athletics are unlikely to pursue Rockies star shortstop Trevor Story in advance of the July 30 trade deadline, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Instead, Passan suggests Oakland could look to add “an impact bat” in the outfield.
Strictly from an on-field perspective, a Story pursuit would make a lot of sense for the A’s, who trail the Astros by half a game in the AL West. Oakland shortstops (almost exclusively Elvis Andrus) have hit just .229/.272/.306 (62 wRC+) across 309 trips to the plate this season. Andrus has been better over the past couple months after an absolutely horrible April, but he’s still put up a below-average .265/.305/.352 mark since May 1. Story’s having a down season (.259/.332/.446) by his lofty standards, but even his disappointing year is far better than Andrus’ performance so far. And Story was one of the best shortstops in the sport from 2018-20, during which time he hit .292/.355/.554.
The bigger obstacle to the A’s landing Story always seemed to be finances. The two-time All-Star is making $17.5MM this season, his final year before free agency. A team that acquires Story at the deadline would owe him around $6.1MM for the stretch run, assuming the Rockies don’t pay down any of the deal to ensure a better trade return. For a player of Story’s caliber, that’s more than reasonable, but it’s also a higher amount than the low-payroll A’s seemed likely to take on midseason.
Nevertheless, reports emerged last month suggesting Oakland could be a player for Story’s services. If they’re indeed out of the running, that removes one of the few contenders with an obvious hole at shortstop. All six current division leaders (Red Sox, White Sox, Astros, Mets, Brewers and Giants) already have answers at the position, as do the Blue Jays, Mariners, Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Padres. The Rays have a glut of highly-regarded infield prospects at or near the big league level, and they don’t seem particularly likely to assume Story’s salary either. It’s debatable whether the Angels, Cardinals or Reds are close enough to contention to acquire an impending free agent.
As Passan notes, that leaves the Indians and Yankees as the cleanest fits for Story. Whether Cleveland’s ownership would greenlight a significant midseason acquisition of salary is an open question, though. New York, meanwhile, spent the entire offseason maneuvering their way just below the first luxury tax threshold. Owner Hal Steinbrenner suggested this morning he’d consider going over that mark, but it remains to be seen whether that’s the case and/or whether the team is even close enough to contention a month from now to make that kind of acquisition worthwhile.
Lack of obvious fits notwithstanding, the Rockies still seem likely to eventually find a landing spot for Story. One of the shortstop-needy clubs on the fringes could yet play their way into definitive contention. Clubs without an obvious roster fit could come up with a creative way of working him into the fold- perhaps by moving Story or their incumbent shortstop over to second or third base for a few months.
The Rockies could recoup draft pick compensation via a qualifying offer if they hang onto Story all year, but it’s probable they find a more valuable prospect package in a trade in the coming weeks. It’s possible that offer will wind up coming from a team that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to actually “need” a shortstop.