In all the discussion of the Yankees‘ reticence to commit $300 million to Corey Seager or Carlos Correa, most aggrieved fans have identified the unpalatable “short-term” solutions of Andrelton Simmons and Freddy Galvis as the only alternatives.
But what if there’s a world where the Yankees can create their own short-term solution by overwhelming one of the still-young second-tier options with a massive overpay that fits their window and the market?
We can all agree (hopefully) that wasting Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in their primes by signing Simmons to hit .210 with no power while regressing in the field is tough to stomach.
Signing any one of the top five shortstop options should be a-ok, though. Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baéz all represent varying degrees of stardom, and even their bats regress slightly while their defense stays sterling, they’ll represent massive upgrades over both what the Yankees had in 2021 and what they would have next year with one of the absolutely bat-deficient stopgaps.
Maybe there’s a happy medium to be reached here, though, with Story, who diverged from Semien’s path spectacularly in 2021.
Recently thought to be clearly in the upper tier (or a tick below), the Rockies refused to trade him both before and after 2020, as well as at the 2021 deadline. Instead, they stuck draft pick compensation to him as he wallowed away in Colorado, posting his worst post-2017 season (103 OPS+, 4.2 WAR).
Is there any way the Yankees can have their cake and eat it by nabbing a top-three option in Story on a short-term reload, allowing himself to rebuild his own value and walk after 2024, handing the keys to either Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe?
Could the Yankees help Trevor Story rebuild his value?
Now, in order to pull something like this off, the Yankees would need to both strike quickly and outbid teams significantly in AAV, like the desperate Texas Rangers, who’ve shown interest in the hometown kid recently (while not-so-subtly pursuing Corey Seager, too).
MLB Trade Rumors suggests the Rangers are the most likely destination for Story, projecting a six-year, $126 million deal. That’s long-term security for the 29-year-old, sure, but it’d also likely be his final pay day; he wouldn’t be likely to garner anything more than a three-year deal at age 35.
Of all the shortstop options, Story’s the only one where it seems possible he could be coerced into signing a two-year contract and trying again in 2023-24, post-lockout. The Yankees can absolutely beat the $21 million AAV projected above — and by a lot, especially after whiffing on allocating $25 million to Justin Verlander. Maybe Brian Cashman doesn’t want to dole out $300 million to Corey Seager, but what about two years and $56 million to Story, which would give him a World Series-contending platform and allow him to seek a six- or seven-year deal to end his career during the next cycle?
It bears repeating, too, that among the hundreds of other bits of foolishness about stopgap shortstops in 2022, what sticks out the most is that many talent evaluators already have questions about whether Volpe can stay at the position long-term. He might be a second baseman. He might be a third baseman.
Banking on a defensive leap forward while both he and Peraza hit their ceilings in 24 months is a downright goofy way to build a team. For those of you arguing that so is paying Correa or Seager a Francisco Lindor-like sum, this proposition is a middle ground that’d insure against prospect regression and get the Yankees a powerful upgrade to plop in Andrelton Simmons’ allotted locker.
It’d also help Story, stuck with the QO of Shame, become the star he was meant to be again … if he’d only listen.