The Yankees are looking at one of the top position players that might be available at the trade deadline, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets that New York is one of the teams interested Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. Roughly six to eight teams have reportedly contacted the Rockies about Story, with the White Sox being one of the names linked to the All-Star.
There have already been a few unique turns to Story’s status as a trade candidate, such as Chicago’s openness to moving Story from shortstop to second base, or an unnamed team looking into Story as a center fielder. While the Yankees have a center field need of their own, it is probably safe to presume their interest in Story is pretty straight-forward — Story would take over shortstop from Gleyber Torres, with Torres moving to second base, DJ LeMahieu playing first base regularly, and Gio Urshela playing third base when he returns from the COVID-IL. Luke Voit would presumably factor into the first base mix when healthy, though it isn’t known when he might return from his current knee problems.
Story is only under contract through the remainder of the 2021 season, but it would be safe to imagine that his acquisition might mark the long-term end of Torres as a shortstop. Torres has delivered consistently below-average defense at the shortstop position, and since taking over the position full-time prior to the 2020 season, Torres’ offensive production has significantly dropped. After batting .275/.338/.511 in 1088 PA in 2018-19, Torres has since hit only .241/.337/.348 in 497 plate appearances.
Should the Yankees be looking for a new shortstop come the offseason, they’ll have many options to pick from amidst a very star-studded shortstop class that will include Story himself. The Yankees would certainly use their two-plus months with Story as a recruiting pitch to perhaps interest him in a long-term commitment this winter, and there would be no better enticement than if Story could help the team get into the postseason.
Playing on a $17.5M salary for 2021, Story has about $6.97M remaining. It isn’t a huge sum unto itself, though it does weigh heavily for a Yankees team that has prioritized staying under the $210M luxury tax threshold this season, and thus resetting their penalty status. New York is already within roughly $4M of the threshold, and the Yankees also have holes to fill in the outfield and within the pitching staff. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted today, the Rockies could opt to maximize their return for Story by offering to eat the rest of his salary in exchange for a better prospect return, which would certainly get the Yankees’ attention and would be a canny move to increase the trade value of a rental player.
That said, there is also some doubt that Colorado will move Story at all, since the team will get a compensatory draft pick should Story reject the qualifying offer and sign elsewhere in free agency. The Yankees would have to top the value of that compensatory pick, which New York might not be willing to do for a rental player, and if the team is ultimately competing just for a one-game wild card playoff at this point (given the eight-game gap between the Yankees and the first-place Red Sox in the AL East standings).