Some injuries are more predictable than others, and Boston Red Sox shortstop Trevor Story experiencing elbow pain before Christmas 2022 was as predictable as children leaving out milk, cookies and shredded Xander Bogaerts cards for Santa a few days later.
Story’s narrative changed quickly this offseason, as the shortstop went from Bogaerts’ hand-picked heir apparent to down for the count in a matter of weeks. Those who followed Story’s free agency last offseason, and the seasons that preceded it, were not at all surprised, however. Count the New York Yankees among those who chose to watch last offseason’s conversations from the sidelines for a reason.
Just about an hour after Carlos Correa — the short-term shortstop the Yankees should’ve pursued last offseason — officially signed his third mega-deal of the offseason with the Minnesota Twins, the Red Sox announced that Story — the short-term shortstop the Yankees were wise to avoid — had undergone a form of Tommy John surgery.
The procedure will keep him out for four-to-six months, at least, and Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom believes Story will return in 2023.
That belief — far from a certainty — is why the Yankees were unwilling to commit six years to Story last offseason, and the slugger now stands poised to miss large chunks of the first two seasons of his contract in Boston.
Yankees avoided Red Sox Trevor Story at shortstop because surgery was always looming
Entering 2022, it was not a deep, dark secret that Story’s arm may not be fated for shortstop long-term. Lingering concerns pushed him to second alongside Bogaerts last season, and led to unfettered hope that perhaps the two Red Sox would be able to remain as a double play partnership for years to come, rather than one stealing the other’s job when the offseason bell tolled.
Alas, Bogaerts is gone, and Story may never be the same player he was in the thin Colorado air (and showed early signs of arm strength regression last season).
Of course, the Yankees knew that, and while their belief in Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza may turn out to eventually be misguided, they can remain secure in the fact that paying Story last offseason would’ve only further gummed up their window’s hinges rather than propping it open.
Statcast’s new arm strength feature tracked Story’s throws from short in 2021 at an average of 79.1 miles per hour, ranking him 52nd of 58 qualified shortstops. In 2022, at second base, he finished 61st of 70 at his new position.
Now, it remains unclear just how far that velocity will dip, but it’s unlikely Story will see a sudden spike after months of grueling rehabilitation.
Last offseason, most knew Story wasn’t a sure thing, but it was widely assumed that signing him was better than signing no one. The Yankees knew otherwise, and the way Story’s story has unfolded since then has vindicated their process.