Rockies hang on to Story at Trade Deadline

July 31st, 2021

DENVER -- Valuing a possible compensatory MLB Draft pick over trade offers, the Rockies decided not to trade shortstop Trevor Story before Friday’s Trade Deadline. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, along with Jon Gray, who also was not dealt.

The Rockies plan to make Story a qualifying offer -- an MLB-wide figure for a 2022 salary, which will be determined this offseason. The QO for the '21 season was $18.9 million, just slightly above the $18.5 that Story is receiving this year to end a two-year contract.

If Story refuses the QO, which is common for free agents, the Rockies will be entitled to a pick after the first round. Colorado originally selected Story in 2011 as a compensatory pick.

“With the way the system is set up, there’s a financial component to it,” interim GM Bill Schmidt explained. “Depending where the pick is, it’s probably a couple million dollars added to your [signing] pool money that you’re able to use throughout the Draft. So it’s just not that player. It might be a couple other players.

“But with that pick, that was where Trevor was drafted. Nolan [Arenado] was in the vicinity, Ryan McMahon -- we’ve had some success. We’ve had some misses, but we’ve had a lot of success in those areas.”

Schmidt said the organization felt any trade offer for Story had to at least be equal to the value of the comp pick. Still, several other players in Story’s situation -- stars on non-contending teams who had expiring contracts -- were moved. Those included Eduardo Escobar to the Brewers, Javy Báez to the Mets, Starling Marte to the Athletics, Kris Bryant to the Giants and Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees.

“I’m confused and don’t really have anything good to say about the situation and how it unfolded,” Story said after learning he’d be staying put.

Story, who was scratched from Friday’s game at San Diego, has missed 11 games this year with a right elbow injury and is having a down season overall, slashing .240/.312/.429. Beyond that, his modified throwing motion sparked questions among scouts. All of those factors played a role in the offers the Rockies received for him.

"I've talked to Trev, and Trev's a pro," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He knows that this organization has been behind him for a long time, since the day he was drafted. And he also knows that what lies ahead is uncertain -- even this last week, there's uncertainty for a lot of players who are in his position. But there's some certainty now for the next couple of months as this season concludes."

Schmidt, who took over when Jeff Bridich stepped down as GM in late April, said he kept Story abreast of developments throughout the process.

“I told Trevor in the past, ‘There’s a chance you still might be here. So he knew,’” Schmidt said. “And that disappointment, I understand that. But I think Trevor, one, is a very good professional. He'll move on, and he’ll play through it. And we'll go on and we'll address it in the offseason.”

Story is the second star player whose hard feelings with the team have surfaced in 2021. The Rockies dealt Arenado to the Cardinals more than a year after Arenado’s disgruntlement with Bridich and the club went public.

But Schmidt was not ready to give up on re-signing Story, who no doubt will entertain other suitors this winter in a free-agent class of shortstops that also includes Báez, Houston's Carlos Correa and the Dodgers’ Corey Seager.

“We will try,” Schmidt said. “We’d like to have Trevor with us long term. That might not be possible. We’ll take what the offseason brings.”

While Bridich, assistant GM of player personnel Jon Weil and assistant GM of player development Zach Wilson all left during the season, Schmidt said the Deadline approach process did not suffer. Decisions were based on value.

Still, players who could have been obtained for Story might have addressed the Rockies’ search for offensive impact -- a screaming need manifested best in their 11-39 road record. Colorado has struggled with power hitting, a condition rare in club history. Stringing together big innings, a key to the 33-20 home mark, is a tougher proposition on the road, where balls break differently and offense is tougher to generate. Impact hitters capable of a home run are necessary to bridge the gap.

That could mean spending this offseason. Schmidt, who is a candidate for the full-time GM job, acknowledged that the Rockies may need to break slightly from their longtime mode of operation to bring in bigger bats.

“We realize, first and foremost, we are always going to be a scouting and development organization,” said Schmidt, who was serving as vice president of scouting before taking the GM duties. “Along the way, though, sometimes you do need to fill spots where you don't have that player available to help your club out. And we'll look at the free-agent market.

“We know we need to get better as a club. And we'll take those steps in the offseason.”

Story didn’t move, and neither did the right-hander Gray or right-handed closer Daniel Bard.

In recent days, Gray and the Rockies decided to work on a new contract. Still, there was interest.

“There were people reaching out on Jon,” Schmidt said. “But we’re hopeful that Jon would like to stay here, which I believe he does, and that we’re going to be able to find a common ground.”

Gray told reporters from The Gazette (Colorado Springs and Denver) and The Athletic on Thursday: “If I won here, it would mean the world to me. I can’t pass up on that. I don’t want to.”

The Rockies also have Bard’s contract under club control through 2022 and decided early on not to trade him.

These are the two moves the Rockies did make:

• They dealt veteran righty reliever Mychal Givens to the Reds on Wednesday for two pitching prospects -- righty Noah Davis, who figures to be placed on the Rockies’ 40-man Major League roster this winter, and righty Case Williams, whom Colorado drafted last year but sent to Cincinnati during the offseason in a separate deal.

• They reacquired righty reliever Ashton Goudeau, who pitched for them last season, from the Reds for cash consideration. Goudeau appeared in five games for Cincinnati this season, and since the end of last season he has been moved six times between five teams. The Rockies had him in their system earlier this season.