If Rockies deal Story, these clubs are best fits

May 12th, 2021

With so much of the league bunched together in the standings -- only six of the 30 clubs were more than four games out of first place entering play on Tuesday -- there’s a lot that will happen between now and the end of July before we get a true sense of who will be buyers and sellers at the July 30 Trade Deadline.

One of those six teams with a larger gap between themselves and the top of their division is the Colorado Rockies, who have already had a tumultuous year in which they traded their franchise player (Nolan Arenado) and switched general managers (Jeff Bridich resigned on April 26, resulting in the naming of Bill Schmidt as the club’s interim GM).

The Rockies are seemingly in the midst of a transition period, one that will likely include the eventual trade of their current best player, . The shortstop is headed for free agency after the season, and with a long-term extension between the two sides extremely improbable, Colorado is expected to move the 28-year-old by the Deadline.

Which teams could be in the mix for the two-time All-Star? MLB.com examines five potential candidates:

The Yankees currently have a two-time All-Star of their own at shortstop, but most scouts believe that Gleyber Torres is better suited for second base. Rougned Odor came through with some timely hits after joining the club earlier this season, but upgrading to Story and moving Torres would be a no-brainer for GM Brian Cashman.  

The Yankees have the No. 18 farm system in the Majors, per MLB Pipeline, and while No. 1 prospect Jasson Dominguez is untouchable, New York has plenty of prospect capital from which to deal.

The Athletics sit in first place in the AL West despite dreadful production from the shortstop position, where Elvis Andrus and Vimael Machín have combined for a .397 OPS, by far the lowest of any club this season. Billy Beane and David Forst have never been shy to make a big deal at the Trade Deadline if they see a path to the postseason, so a deal for Story can’t be ruled out.

With the No. 26-ranked farm system, Oakland doesn’t have many top-notch prospects to move, but keep in mind that the Dodgers acquired Manny Machado in his contract year for the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect and four other low-level prospects, so a rental player such as Story might not bring back a huge haul.

The Brewers are off to a solid start in the competitive NL Central, though Milwaukee ranks 26th in runs scored. Injuries (Christian Yelich) and underperformance (Keston Hiura, Jackie Bradley Jr.) have been an issue, but the production from shortstop has been below average; Luis Urías (31 strikeouts in 94 at-bats) and three others have combined for a .580 OPS, good for 25th in the Majors.  

The cost-conscious Brewers rank 28th in the league in terms of farm system strength, but as we previously mentioned, rental position players don’t always necessitate a big package of prospects. Whether Milwaukee would be willing to take on Story’s salary -- he’ll earn a little more than $6 million over the final two months -- could also stand in the way of a deal between the Rockies and Brewers, but the fit is there on the field.

Like the Brewers, the Reds have been hanging around the top of the NL Central through the first six weeks of the season in spite of pedestrian production from the shortstop position. Eugenio Suárez has been the primary culprit, posting a .543 OPS entering Tuesday while getting the bulk of at-bats at the position.  

The Reds possess a versatile group of players, so even though Suárez -- who is signed through 2024 -- isn’t going anywhere, the Reds could reshuffle the pieces to make Story fit, boosting the lineup with a big bat. Cincinnati’s farm system ranks 20th, though the Reds have five Top 100 prospects, giving them some attractive trade bait.

The Rays have struggled to get much out of shortstop this season, as Willy Adames and Joey Wendle have combined for a .579 OPS at the position, bettering only four other teams. Wander Franco, the No. 1 prospect in the game, is likely to be the solution if Tampa Bay decides to make a change, but if he isn’t ready, could the Rays swing a deal to rent Story for the stretch run?   

Tampa Bay has the top-ranked farm system in the Majors, having entered this season with eight players on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. The biggest roadblock to a deal could be Story’s salary, as he’ll earn more than $6 million over the final two months of the season, but perhaps the Rockies would be willing to pay down the deal to increase the quality of the prospects they get in return.