It was probably an hour into me mindlessly scrolling through the internet for any news regarding Major League Baseball before I had an epiphany: Trevor Story makes some sense for the Braves.
Shortstop isn’t a need for the Braves right now, but it could be next offseason if they don’t extend Dansby Swanson. Locking in Swanson long-term is the best course of action. He shouldn’t be overly expensive, and the realistic options — meaning within the Braves’ budget — aren’t very inspiring. Plus, I believe Swanson’s best baseball remains in front of him. His next contract could be a bargain if the Braves can extend him before the start of the season. But, if for some reason Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t believe he’s worth the money he will fetch in free agency or wants to find an upgrade, the best time to do it is now.
Even with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien off the market, two of the best shortstops in the game are available. It’s already been reported that the Braves have been in contact with Correa. However, that was always going to be a long shot, and it’s even more unlikely following Correa’s decision to hire Scott Boras as his agent. But the fact that the Braves are even considering a shortstop shows they are at least mulling their options at the position.
Trevor Story is a much more feasible replacement. He should cost about half as much as Correa and could provide very similar production. 2022 was the first time in four years that he finished out of the top 12 in NL MVP voting. It was a down year for Story, and he still managed an .801 OPS and 4.2 WAR. On paper, he’s a clear upgrade over Swanson, but there’s always one thing worth paying attention to with players that play their home games in Colorado — splits — and Story’s are a glaring red flag.
For his career, Story is a .301 hitter at Coors Field with a .972 OPS. Those are the numbers of a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he turns into Ehire Adrianza on the road, recording a much lower .241 average and .752 OPS. He’s also hit 95 homers at home compared to 63 on the road.
That’s over a six-year sample size, so it’s hard to ignore. Perhaps Story just struggles to play in front of opposing fans, but it seems far more likely he is benefitting from playing at Coors Field. Wherever he goes next, I don’t think it’s a guarantee that he records an OPS over .800 as he has in five of his six seasons.
When it’s put that way, it’s relatively evident that re-signing Swanson is the better option. That seems to be the trend every time I try to evaluate realistic replacements for the Braves at shortstop. A scenario in which the Braves turn to Story because of his upside exists, but I’m sure it’s the best course of action.
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