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Braves Potential Free Agency Target: Trevor Story

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He’s one of the top shortstops on the market. Despite already having a solid shortstop of their own, would that stop the Braves from trying a move for Trevor Story?

MLB: SEP 14 Rockies at Braves Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let’s start off with the obvious when it comes to the Atlanta Braves and a potential free agency bid for Trevor Story. The clear starting point here is that the Braves have been doing just fine with Dansby Swanson as the shortstop that they currently have, so why mess with a good thing? Also, if Story does come to Atlanta then he’s probably not going to come cheap, right?

To answer the first question, the Braves would probably not miss a single beat if they decided to move on from Swanson in favor of Story. Trevor Story is a better hitter than Dansby Swanson — Trevor Story is a safe bet to give you above-average plate production (his career 107 wRC+ bears this out) combined with a decent amount of pop (career .251 Isolated Power) and he’s going to do so in a consistent manner. Meanwhile, Dansby Swanson will usually go through stretches where he absolutely tears the cover off of the ball while balancing that out with stretches where it looks like he has no business swinging the bat in the majors.

While there would be concerns about what would happen to Trevor Story’s production once he moves away from Coors Field, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Naturally, Story’s career slash line and overall production in Denver (.303/.369/.603, .300 Isolated Power, 125 wRC+) puts his road work to shame (.241/.310/.442, .201 Isolated Power, 98 wRC+). With that being said, it would be shocking if Story’s production just completely fell off a cliff once he moves on to a new team. Former Rockies usually see a bump in their road hitting numbers upon finding a new home and if that’s the case for Story, then he’d still be one of the better-hitting shortstops in baseball.

At this point, the main concern for teams when it comes to Story’s hitting is with his production against righties. Say what you want about Dansby Swanson, but his L/R splits in 2021 were pretty consistent. Meanwhile, Story had a pretty bad time against right-handers last year and his road splits against righties were especially bad! This trend started in 2020 and it exacerbated in 2021, so that would be a decent-sized concern for him as he heads into his age-29 season.

As usual when it comes to defensive metrics, there’s no easy consensus or agreement on just how good Trevor Story is with the glove. If you ask DRS, Trevor Story is a plus defender at shortstop and had a dizzying peak in 2019 when he finished with a DRS of 21. His 2021 DRS mark was 9, which is still pretty good. DRS has a much more favorable view of Story than it does of Swanson, who finished last year with his DRS at -7. If you find that outrageous, then maybe you can take solace in the fact that OAA has the bee’s knees for Dansby’s glove work.

Dansby’s OAA had him up in the 82nd percentile with 3 OAA in 2021, while OAA gave Story the cold shoulder with a mark of -5 OAA — putting him in only the 4th percentile last season. OAA and DRS were in agreement on Story in 2019, so he does have the potential to play some solid defense. Whether or not he’ll do it going forward is anybody’s guess, but I’d lean towards Story being a positive on defense rather than being a negative.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

So, if the Braves were to talk turkey with Trevor Story over a deal then it would be likely that they’d have to pony up something in the area of like five-to-six years with something in the $120-130 million range. I definitely don’t see him getting anywhere near Corey Seager money and he’s probably not going to get as much as Carlos Correa. With that being said, I wouldn’t put this in the realm of impossibility for the Braves. If the Braves don’t bring back Freddie Freeman like everybody predicts them to, then that money could go towards Trevor Story being the crown jewel signing of the offseason for Atlanta. I’d also imagine that this would see the Braves putting Dansby Swanson on the market and shipping him out of town in order to fit Story in while also getting some help at other positions. In my opinion, the scenario I’ve just laid out is one of the only ways that the Braves going after Trevor Story (or even Correa, for that matter) would make immediate sense.

So while it would be pretty wild to see Trevor Story in a Braves uniform once this upcoming season gets started (sooner or later), it’s not something that would be completely outside of the realm of possibility. It would involve the hometown hero being sent on a one-way trip out of town in order to fit in the new guy from the mountains, but it wouldn’t be a terrible decision for the World Series champions to make as they look to defend their title. I’d still say that the odds of Story joining the Braves are pretty long but I also wouldn’t put it past Alex Anthopoulos to try to make a splash if they whiff on bringing back a certain Canadian-American first baseman.