Free Agent Target: Why the Mariners Should Sign Trevor Story
Trevor Story is one of the members of the upcoming loaded shortstop free-agent class including Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, amongst others. He came into 2021 with people talking about him being expected to sign the biggest deal of all the shortstops. An awful 2021 changed that tune fast. Story had an awful year compared to his usual standards and is no longer expected to sign a huge contract.
Story is well known for his offensive prowess hitting in Coors Field in Colorado. There will no doubt be talk of the “Coors Field effect” when free agency begins since it is well documented that players have better offensive numbers in Colorado compared to other environments. This is true and is something to consider with Story, but he has tons of upside.
Trevor Story hit a lowly .203 with 29 extra-base hits while on the road in 2021. That is definitely not good and while some could say he will do that for all games away from Coors Field, it is simply wrong. He has hit .241 during his career while playing on the road. That is definitely not a great number, but Story would be better than .203 for a full season in Seattle.
According to Baseball Savant, Story would have hit 46 home runs if he played in Seattle. He only hit 24 home runs in reality in 2021. So while the ball may fly farther in the mile-high air, the ball does not have to travel as far in T-Mobile Park to clear the fence. Also, playing at a normal altitude all year could benefit Story greatly as it is harder to breathe there and harder to recover from injuries. This could help play into the Mariners and Story being a good match for each other.
So what is the upside with Trevor Story?
The Mariners could be able to sign a star-level offensive player for a very short-term contract to allow Story to rebuild his value. He is coming off of a bad year and the Mariners can give him second base as a landing spot to play in Seattle. He has only played 40 career games in the minors and in the Arizona Fall League, but he is at least an average defender at shortstop so his game should transfer to second base well.
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that Trevor Story hits at least 25 home runs next year, steals 15 bases, and posts at least a 110 wRC+. He has averaged 29 home runs and 21 steals per season, with a 112 WRC+ throughout his career, so those are all easily projectable numbers, even potentially on the low side.
Even in a down year, 2021 Story was a 3 or 4 win player according to Fangraphs WAR and Baseball Reference WAR. That is still a really good player for the Mariners to add to their infield. Story could give the Mariners at least a good second baseman with the chance to be better, which would allow Abraham Toro to move to third base.
The Mariners can easily offer Story the same type of deal Marcus Semien got last year of 1 year at about $20 million. That could get Story to come to Seattle, but the Mariners could sweeten it a bit and offer 2 years for $40 million or somewhere in that range, ending up with a potential star that they could play at second base. Trevor Story and J.P. Crawford would be one of the best double play combinations in baseball and move the Mariners even closer to the playoffs next year.