Unlike the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies elected not to sell off their walk-year star at the Trade Deadline. And, for as much as the decisions to trade Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez, and Kris Bryant might have generated sadness among Cubs fans, it’s pretty easy to see the merits of those trades.
By contrast, it remains very difficult to understand why the Rockies held onto Trevor Story, knowing full well that an extension isn’t happening. Maybe, because of his relative struggles this year, the offers were all just crummy. Too crummy to make it worth not just hanging onto Story and taking the compensatory draft pick after the season when he declines a qualifying offer. It’d be surprising if the Rockies couldn’t get slightly more than that, but I won’t rule it out.
Anyway, that’s all just background to Story’s visit to Wrigley Field this week, which made for some good talking points at NBC Sports Chicago and The Athletic:
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) August 24, 2021
Trevor Story will listen if the Cubs are serious about being big players in the free-agent market and executing a quick turnaround at Wrigley Field: “It’s a special place. When you’re here, there’s something different about it.” https://t.co/we7kJTVOUP
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 24, 2021
“It’s a special place,” Story said. “I was just talking to our hitting coach, (Jeff) Salazar, about it. When you’re here, there’s something different about it. Here and New York and Boston, in those three stadiums, you just feel a different atmosphere about it. But, yeah, it certainly brings memories back to 2018. It was obviously good for my team. It was electric, man. I feel like that’s what it’s all about playing baseball ….
“From afar, it’s such a historic organization. I love playing here. The fans are great. Just coming here over the last six years, it’s a place you look forward to coming, for sure.”
To me, the message there is less notable for any specifics related to Trevor Story, though I’ll touch on it in a moment. Instead, the main thing to take away is the reminder that other players do very much still view the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field as a destination in free agency. Without a doubt, the money still matters the most. Let’s not kid ourselves, or deny players the right to get as much in free agency as they can possibly get. But sometimes I think Cubs fans get a little too close to things, and come to believe that our own frustrations over decisions the organization have made are shared by players around baseball. It just isn’t the case. The Cubs are still viewed as a very player-friendly, family-friendly, fan-friendly organization, playing in an iconic ballpark in a great city. Players will want to come if the money is there. The soft factor stuff isn’t going to be an issue.
As for Story, specifically, as a Cubs target, I have a mixed reaction. On the one hand, without Nico Hoerner locked into shortstop as the definite starter next year (and also without a locked-in third baseman), I am very much on board with the idea that the Cubs could explore this shortstop class. Maybe that means a Story pursuit. Maybe it means a reunion with Javy Báez. Maybe it means an approach on Corey Seager or Carlos Correa or Marcus Semien.
Like a number of those guys, Story’s 2021 season has opened up a lot of questions about what his market and price tag will look like. Prior to this season, he was pretty consistently great at the plate and in the field, with your obligatory Coors Field discussion necessary:
As is true for almost every big Rockies bat, Story’s home/road splits are significant, and you pretty much have to enter into a pursuit believing that it’s the Coors hangover effect on the road. Otherwise, you’d have a whole lot less interest in going after him for his road numbers (.243/.311/.437, 97 wRC+).
But, assuming his elbow issue from earlier this year is not substantial, you’re talking about a 28-year-old who is always great defensively, runs the bases well, and has the potential to be a well-above-average bat. Can you convince yourself that this season is just a fluke brought on by dismissible issues X, Y, and Z? If so, then you might be out there trying to sign Story for something way into the nine figures. I’m not sure that team would be the Cubs.
(If I *had* to pick one of the shortstops for the Cubs to pursue, it’d probably be Carlos Correa, who is the youngest, whose bat has the most upside, and who isn’t coming off a major hand injury like Seager. But those two are definitely close, and will both get over $200 million. Maybe way over.)