Trevor Story emerged as a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman this year. But if Xander Bogaerts opts out of the remaining three years of his contract and leaves, would Story be an option for the Red Sox at shortstop?
Story, of course, had spent his entire big league career at short for the Rockies before moving to second base in 2022 after signing a six-year, $140 million deal with the Sox in March. He did so in deference to Bogaerts, though the move also made sense at another level.
Story dealt with elbow injuries in 2021 that took a toll. According to data that was publicly revealed by Statcast on Wednesday, he went from having roughly middle-of-the-pack arm strength in 2020 (his throws averaged 82.3 miles per hour) to well below-average in 2021 (79.1 m.p.h).
While Story has missed considerable time due to a broken bone near his wrist and more recently a left heel contusion, and it remains to be seen if he plays again before the end of the year, Story’s elbow has been healthy throughout 2022. But while a further drop in velocity would be expected at second base with the types of throws made from the position, Story’s 76.0-m.p.h average is among the lowest in baseball at second.
That said, Story’s arm has rarely been an issue on plays this year – whether on double plays or several strong plays he made on the left side of second base in shifts. Does he believe he could handle a return to short if asked?
“If that was the case, I feel like I’d be able to,” said Story. “Over the course of the year, I’ve stayed ready. I’ve prepared my arm to keep my arm strength in general.”
Third base and infield coach Carlos Febles agreed, noting that even if his arm strength doesn’t return to its peak, players such as David Eckstein have been championship shortstops with below-average arms.
“He could do it,” Febles said of Story playing short. “He’d have to play fast, like he did in Colorado when he threw on the run.”
That said, Febles noted that Story was “unbelievable” this year at second, and that his range at the position will only become more valuable in 2023 when MLB implements shift restrictions. For his part, Story expressed hope that he’ll remain at second base in 2023 so that Bogaerts can continue his run as the Red Sox shortstop.
“I don’t see how we get better if we’re losing him,” said Story.
Crawford goes live
Righthander Kutter Crawford, who landed on the injured list on Sept. 4 with a right shoulder impingement, threw two innings of live batting practice to teammates Christian Arroyo, Eric Hosmer, and Story. He showed solid velocity and was able to throw his entire mix, a performance that should set the stage for the 26-year-old to have a full, healthy offseason.
Despite a 5.47 ERA, Crawford impressed the Sox with his ability to compete in the rotation as a rookie. Over an eight-outing, 43-inning stretch from June to August, he had a 2.72 ERA with 42 strikeouts and just eight walks. At the least, he could be a starting pitching depth option of first resort heading into 2023, with a chance to forge a spot either in the rotation or bullpen out of the gates.
“Let’s see what happens next year,” said Cora. “He is part of the future. He is important for us. And regardless of the last few outings, we feel very comfortable about him.”
Arroyo, sidelined by illness since Sept. 18, will return to the lineup on Thursday. Hosmer, on the injured list since Aug. 22 with lower back inflammation, appears on track for activation for the final series of the season against Tampa Bay next week. On Tuesday, Hosmer wore a Red Sox T-shirt honoring Anthony Varvaro, the reliever-turned-police officer who died in a car accident on the way to a 9/11 commemoration.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that one or two players – whom he declined to identify – would have to wait until Saturday to join the team in Toronto. Canada announced earlier this week that it will lift its vaccination requirement for visitors to the country starting on Saturday; the Sox are slated to fly to Toronto on Thursday in advance of their weekend series in Rogers Centre. “[The unvaccinated players] have to stay here until Saturday morning and then go,” said Cora. On the prior two trips to Toronto, righthanders Crawford and Tanner Houck as well as outfielder Jarren Duran were unable to play the Blue Jays due to their unvaccinated status. … Triple A Worcester’s season came to a whispering end when banged on Wednesday by a rainout in Rochester. Cora said that the Red Sox would be joined by a taxi squad of WooSox players, with catcher Ronaldo Hernández joining the team on Thursday and three others – Duran and righthanders Bryan Mata and Josh Winckowski – joining the traveling party to Toronto after Thursday’s game. Duran’s inclusion in that list likely means that he’s now vaccinated. … Mata is unlikely to be added to the roster, but the Sox want to familiarize the righthander with the big league environment, including pregame pitchers’ meetings that take place in advance of series and games ... The Sox optioned righthander Connor Seabold to Triple A Worcester after Wednesday’s game.