Confirming a widely expected development, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports that Trevor Story will not accept the Rockies’ qualifying offer ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. As such, he’ll forego the one-year, $18.4MM deal and test the open market as part of a historic class of high-end free agent shortstops.
Assuming Story does not ultimately re-sign with Colorado, the Rox will receive a compensation pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A presuming Story signs for $50MM or more, or a pick between the second round and Competitive Balance Round B should he sign for less than $50MM. The former is, of course, more likely; MLBTR has him pegged for six years and $126MM.
Perhaps the more intriguing news in Saunders’ report is that the list of teams who’ve checked in with the shortstop (Saunders counts 8) does not include the Rockies. While Story is widely expected to leave the Mile High City this winter, news that Colorado hasn’t even checked in with their longtime star’s camp is noteworthy — and makes their decision not to trade him at this year’s trade deadline all the more puzzling. Per a June report from Saunders, Story made it clear to Rockies’ management he had little interest in engaging in extension talks (perhaps related to the club’s handling of Nolan Arenado following his extension), and letting him walk without at least the appearance of a fight may not endear new GM Bill Schmidt to the Colorado fanbase.
Though Story’s walk-year numbers (.251/.329/.471, with an OPS+ of 103) hardly represent his strongest showing, his career baseline of .272/.340/.523 (112 OPS+) tells a different tale, particularly given Story’s consistently stellar glovework (69 DRS across six seasons) at a premium position. The relative mediocrity of Story’s 2021 may also have been driven by an elbow injury that sent him to the 10-day IL in late May. An MRI at the time revealed no structural damage, and the shortstop looked much more like his old self in the second half, posting an .843 OPS (just below his career .863 mark).
Story’s OPS+ numbers take the effect of Coors Field into account, but it is worth noting that his home/road splits are significant; his career OPS at Coors (.972) dwarfs his career mark (.752) closer to sea level. This may give teams pause in offering Story the sort of mega-deal that Carlos Correa and Corey Seager (and possibly Marcus Semien) are likely to receive, but he remains a fairly safe bet to at least push nine figures of guaranteed money.
Presuming Story ultimately departs, the Rockies do have an in-house replacement at the ready in former top prospect Brendan Rodgers, who mostly played second base in 2021 but also served as Story’s deputy at short. The versatility of Ryan McMahon (who played second and third in his breakout 2021) and speedster Garrett Hampson (who’s seen time at five positions in the bigs) gives the club a chance to get creative in putting its infield together. It may also open a space for power-hitting corner infielder Elehuris Montero, the Rox’ number-four prospect per MLB.com, to make it to Denver in 2022.