FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two years after the Mookie Betts trade, the Boston Red Sox are back in the superstar business in their quest for a World Series championship.
Oh, the Red Sox fell just two wins short of a World Series title last year, but that was due in large part to the superior performance of players like Kiké Hernández and others more typically associated with baseball’s middle class.
On Sunday, the Red Sox and baseball manager Chaim Bloom changed that narrative and rocked his clubhouse with a big deal, agreeing to a six-year, $140 million deal with shortstop Trevor Story, the last remaining elite free agent in baseball. the post-lockout market. .
A person with direct knowledge of Story’s thinking confirmed that the infielder agrees with the club and hopes to join the team as soon as Sunday. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet finalized.
The contract includes an opt-out after the fourth year, when Story is 32 years old.
Story, 29, will become the Red Sox’s starting second baseman, with All-Star Xander Bogaerts at shortstop. Story was a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger with the Colorado Rockies, where he had 37-homer and 35-homer seasons while also providing elite baserunning ability as well.
And suddenly, in a winter in which division rivals like the Toronto Blue Jays added multiple All-Stars while the New York Yankees stayed in the water, the Red Sox struck late for a player who will make them airtight. defensive and much more suffocating at the plate.
Naturally, the move was warmly received at the clubhouse.
The energy that he brings, when you see him running across the field, it’s like you want him on your team,” says staff ace Nathan Eovaldi, who faced Story in the National League. (The move) ignites the team. We know we’re they want to win.”
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That concept felt a bit iffy after the February 2020 trade of Betts, a pending free agent, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox finished last in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and weren’t expected to do much in 2021, when their key addition was signing Hernandez to a two-year, $14 million deal.
But Hernandez had an All-Star season on both sides of the ball as the club racked up 92 wins, beating the Yankees in the wild-card game, beating the Rays in the AL Division Series and leading Houston to six games in the American League Championship Series.
Now an elite two-way player has joined the fray.
“The ability on the field speaks for itself,” says left-handed starter Rich Hill, also a winter addition. “It’s a huge boost for the clubhouse, the guys here.
“You need as many guys as you can to put together a total of 162 and then 11 in the postseason to get a championship trophy.”
The Rockies made the playoffs twice under Story, but collapsed since last qualifying in 2018 and have made baffling moves in the years since, extending Nolan Arenado’s contract before trading him, letting Story walk but then signing Kris Bryant. with an extension of $182 million.
Story will enjoy an advantage over his fellow elite free agents: Carlos Correa (Twins), Corey Seager (Rangers) and Javy Baez (Cubs), all signed with clubs that finished well out of playoff contention in 2021.
“I’m really excited for Trevor,” says Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. “Couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a great guy.
“All he wants to do is win, and Boston gives him that chance for sure. He’ll do great there.”
Hernandez, long a multi-position dynamo, expressed confidence that Story will transition to the second position with aplomb.
However, Story may be at second base for only one season.
Bogaerts signed a six-year, $120 million extension with the club in 2018 and that deal includes an opt-out clause after this season. Bogaerts turns 30 on Oct. 1 and there’s a good chance he can get more money on the open market than the $60 million he’s guaranteed between 2023 and 2025.
“If it happens, great, it will be amazing,” says Bogaerts, who otherwise declined to comment until the signing becomes official. “He is a great player.”
Story’s signing will cement Hernandez as the Red Sox’s starting center fielder; Manager Alex Cora reiterated Sunday morning that Hernandez remains the club’s best defensive center fielder. Alex Verdugo is likely to be placed in either left or right field, with a combination of Jarren Duran and Jackie Bradley Jr. filling the other corner outfield spot.
It will be an overwhelming defensive lineup: Hernandez finished fifth overall defensively among center fielders, according to FanGraphs. Story ranked fourth among shortstops (9.7) and Bogaerts was ninth (8.3).
“You’re going to get in touch even more,” says Eovaldi. “You saw everything Kiké could do in the center. Are you going to have Bogey and Trevor in the middle? Our team improves a lot right away.”
Story’s signing probably leaves Christian Arroyo more affected by playing time. As with Luke Voit following the Yankees’ signing of Anthony Rizzo, Arroyo could be a potential trade candidate.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox could be a main attraction every night.
“It’s something,” says Eovaldi, “that will be a lot of fun to watch.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trevor Story agrees to six-year, $140 million deal with the Boston Red Sox