The Rangers hosted longtime Rockies shortstop (and Dallas-area native) Trevor Story on Tuesday, per a report from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. While virtually every team with money to spend and a need up the middle is likely to at least the kick the tires on Story, the report of an in-person meeting suggests the Rangers might be looking to move early in the scramble for a historic class of high-end shortstops (a list that also includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez).
Given their stated intention to be aggressive in free agency and their clear need at short, the Rangers are sure to at least check in with other free-agent shortstops, but there’s more to recommend Story than his status as native son. MLBTR’s eighth-ranked free agent, Story didn’t have the strongest platform year (.251/.329/.471 in 595 plate appearances), but his career line of .272/.340/.523 stands out at the premium position of shortstop — particularly given Story’s top-notch glovework (69 DRS across six seasons).
Of course, it’s always worth caveating the offensive numbers of any player who’s played half his games a mile above sea level, and Story’s home-road splits are substantial. His career OPS at Coors Field (.972) tells a very different story than his OPS on the road (.752). Story’s OPS+ numbers — 103 in 2021, 112 for his career — adjust for park factors and may give a clearer picture of what teams ought to expect from him at the plate moving forward. He’s also entering his age-29 season (not to mention coming off an elbow injury that sapped his power for much of 2021), so he’s a solid bet to see at least some decline over the course of a long-term deal.
The Rangers have needs all over the diamond, and finding a place for Story would hardly be a challenge. While incumbent Isiah Kiner-Falefa put together a solid season overall (particularly with the glove), neither Brock Holt nor Charlie Culberson (the Rangers' primary third basemen in 2021, both of whom are free agents) are likely to feature in the club’s long-term (or, frankly, short-term) plans, and it isn’t clear that they view Andy Ibañez or Nick Solak as the long-term solution at second.
Because Story declined a qualifying offer, the team that signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick. As the Rangers neither paid the luxury tax nor received revenue-sharing payments in 2021, the two-time All-Star would cost the club its second-highest 2022 draft pick (currently the third pick of the second round) and $500K in international bonus pool money. (Here is an MLBTR primer on how compensation works.) MLBTR predicts he’ll get a six-year, $126M deal and lists the Rangers as a likely suitor, but they’re hardly alone. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reported Tuesday that at least eight teams have checked in with Story’s representatives.