What better way for Chicago Cubs fans to spend their Thursday than with some offseason "what if"? As the NLCS and ALCS come down to the final games, the Cubs are entering offseason mode after recently bringing on Carter Hawkins as general manager. Per a report from Buster Olney, it appears the Cubs are also doing their homework on this winter's very deep shortstop market.
Now, the Cubs have been named a "likely suitor" for free agent SS Trevor Story. Story is coming off a 2021 season that saw him slash .251/.329/.471. In addition, Story hit 24 home runs while driving in 75 for the Colorado Rockies.
Mark Feinsand's article places the Cubs as the No. 5 suitor out of nine named in the article. Per the article, Feinsand had the following to say about the Cubs and Story:
"Chicago did a reset at the Trade Deadline, dealing away Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Craig Kimbrel and Kyle Schwarber among others, but the Cubs don’t figure to go into a long rebuilding mode. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer recently said the club will be “really active in free agency” this winter, so the idea of the Cubs signing one of the big-name shortstops is certainly in play. The Cubs have two shortstops among their top 10 prospects (No. 3 Cristian Hernandez and No. 7 Ed Howard), but neither has turned 20 yet, leaving a need at the position."
- Mark Feinsand, MLB.com
With that said, does Story truly make sense in Chicago?
This season, there are five major shortstops hitting the free agency market: Carlos Correa, Javier Báez, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Story. Of the five, Semien and Báez had the best power numbers, Seager's slash line was the best, and Correa may be the best all-around player of the five. However, Story is still a name worthy of consideration, and he may be the one that makes the most sense.
Why does Story, who's numbers are in the middle of the pack across all categories, make the most sense? Perhaps because he'll cost the least of all the shortstops. Correa and Seager will likely receive the most money due to their younger age and sparkling numbers. There is a very good chance Báez remains in New York with his childhood friend Francisco Lindor. Unfortunately for Semien, his age (30) may be what costs him either the length or the dollars, despite setting the home run record for second basemen in MLB history.
Despite a down season from Story in 2021, the 28-year-old infielder possesses a 112 OPS+ over the course of his career. Naturally, doubters will point to the fact he's played at Coors Field over the course of his career, but you still have to hit the baseball, no matter how high the elevation is.
The five players rank as follows for career OPS+:
- Corey Seager: 131 OPS+
- Carlos Correa: 127 OPS+
- Trevor Story: 112 OPS+
- Marcus Semien: 110 OPS+
- Javier Báez: 104 OPS+
In addition, Story's value is greatly under-appreciated because of his 2021 numbers. Per Baseball Reference's value tool, Story's base running has yielded the most runs of any player in discussion, his glove is just as good as Javy's per the stat (something that should tickle Cubs fans where they itch) and his bat is comparable to Semien's while ranking better than Báez's.
It's a lot of numbers, and I encourage the readers to do extra digging into each of these five players. Just by following the Baseball Reference links, readers can gather an appreciation for Story's value. He likely won't cost as much as some of the others. However, his value is unmatched and certainly worthy of a deep look.
Of the five, in my humble opinion, Trevor Story is the shortstop candidate that the Cubs should chase. He's a respectable 28 years old, and will turn 29 ahead of the 2022 campaign. However, he strikes out less than Báez ever did, walks more, and is just as good, if not better, defensively than any in the group. Mark Feinsand is correct by including the Cubs on Story's suitor list, and personally, I think the Cubs should take a hard run at the Irving, Texas native this winter.