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

Independent 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 agreement includes an opt-out clause for Story after the fourth year, by Jeff Passan of ESPN.

Story, 29, entered free agency on a negative note. He had his worst offensive performance in years last season, batting .251/.329/.471 (103 OPS+) with 24 homers and 20 stolen bases (out of 26 tries) while spending the entire season with the Rockies in Colorado. That, along with questions about his long-term position resulting from declining arm strength, led CBS Sports to rank him as the 11th best free agent available for the offseason. Here is what we wrote:

If you scroll through Story’s Baseball-Reference page, you’ll click thinking his offense was disappointed while his defense remained rock-solid in his marching year. The truth is the opposite. Story’s early on-set results were the worst in years, but its underlying metrics (release velocity and launch angles) lined up perfectly with its 2019-20 campaigns. The area where the decline was most evident with his game was on the pitch, particularly his arm. He made almost as many throwing errors last season (11) as he had in the previous two seasons combined (12). Maybe the offseason will allow Story to rest his tired elbow, but some teams may already consider him a second baseman. (Heck, a team would have been interested in making him a center fielder at the deadline.) Consider ongoing concerns about his home/road splits (over the past three seasons his OPS was over 200 points better than Coors Field) and the inflated shortstop market, and he could end up serving as Marcus Semien of the winter, settling for a pillow deal before landing the mattress next year.

Story will now have a chance to reestablish himself as an All-Star. He was on the team in 2018 and 2019. He finished in the top 12 in 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 RBIs, 108 runs, 29 steals and 6 .5 WAR.

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

Speaking of fits, Story might work better on the Red Sox as a first hitter. He has only played 24 games in his career, although he has finished second more than any other place. A Red Sox opening day lineup might look like this:

  1. Story of Trevor, 2B
  2. Raphael Devers, 3B
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  4. JD Martinez, DH
  5. Alex Verdugo, LF
  6. Bobby Dalbec, 1B
  7. Enrique Hernández, CF
  8. Christian Vazquez, C.
  9. Jackie Bradley, Jr., RF

The Red Sox will once again have their hands full in the AL East. Four teams won 91+ 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 (down from 81.9, before Story signed) with a 47.8 percent chance of making the playoffs (down from 38.4).

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

As for free agency, the post-lockdown signing frenzy is coming to an end. Of CBS Sports’ initial top 50 free agents heading into the offseason, outfielder Michael Conforto at No. 23 is the top player remaining. Following? Outfielder Tommy Pham at No. 46 – unless Kyle Seager (38) decides not to retire. Either way, the free agent buying is almost done.

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