The last remaining big-name free agent found a home Sunday morning when Trevor Story signed a six-year, $140 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. A theme in these post-lockout contracts, Story can opt-out after the fourth year of the deal. Boston can pick up his seventh-year option, negating the opt-out and making it a $160 million contract.
The 29-year-old star shortstop had a relatively disappointing season in 2021, hitting .251/.329/.471 with 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases across 142 games. Story had established himself as one of the game's top hitters with a .292/.355/.554 slash line in Colorado from 2018-2020. Still, he was one of only ten players last season to hit at least 20 homers and steal 20 bases.
Despite hitting for a low average, there was nothing in Story's profile that suggests a skill decline. His strikeout rate of 23.4 percent was a career-low. And he maintained a 42.6 percent hard-hit rate and 9.9 percent barrel rate, not far off his career averages of 43.4 and 10.2 percent, respectively. In fact, you can make the case Story was one of the unluckiest hitters in 2021. His .293 BABIP was well below his .347 average over his career with the Rockies before last season. He had never posted a mark below .332. A dip in his line drive rate could be partially responsible for the lower BABIP. Getting the line drive rate back up could help Story's outlook. His 94.1 miles per hour average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls fell in line with his 94.4 average over the previous three seasons.
Of course, Colorado is known to inflate batting averages due to the spacious outfield and thin air. And Story's performance away from Coors brings valid concerns regarding how much of a bounce-back we can expect. While Fenway Park isn't Coors Field, there may not have been a better possible landing spot. Boston has had the second-best overall park factors over the last three seasons, according to Statcast. Fenway has been great for right-handed hitters considering the wall in left field. While it further helps the outlook for Story's potential bounce-back, it could mean more would-be home runs turn into doubles off the Green Monster. With power and speed locked in and some positive regression in the slash line coming, fantasy managers can expect a return to solid five-category production across the board. And the lineup context should do wonders for the counting stats.
Story joins an already high-powered lineup that features Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts. According to manager Alex Cora, Bogaerts will remain at shortstop while Story starts at second base. The added second base eligibility will only further add to his fantasy value. Story is currently being drafted on average as the eighth shortstop in Yahoo leagues at pick 41.9. I'd take him ahead of Francisco Lindor -- pick 40.6 -- and Marcus Semien -- pick 32.9 -- after the signing.
Tanner Houck likely to be part of Boston's starting rotation
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora stated that Tanner Houck is likely to be part of the starting rotation to start the season. This is great news for the 25-year-old right-hander's fantasy value. Houck posted a 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 87 strikeouts over 69 innings -- including 13 starts -- for the Red Sox in 2021. As good as the numbers were, his underlying metrics suggest there is true breakout potential here. Houck's FIP and xFIP came in at 2.58 and 3.20, respectively. And his 13.4 percent swinging-strike rate to go with a better than league average 7.4 percent walk rate gives legitimacy to his excellent 23.2 percent K-BB rate. With a spot in the starting rotation, Houck is primed to pay off his 216.1 average draft pick in Yahoo leagues.
American League Quick Hits: Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on Friday to remove loose bodies from his right ankle and is expected to resume throwing in two-to-three weeks. ... Kenta Maeda was transferred to the 60-day injured list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. ... Marwin Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with the Yankees... The Twins signed RHP Joe Smith to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. ... The Rangers placed Jonathan Hernandez on the 60-day injured list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. ... Garrett Richards signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Rangers. ... Seattle manager Scott Servais announced Casey Sadler will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. ... The Yankees claimed Yoan Aybar off waivers from the Rockies... Randy Dobnak was shut down from throwing due to continued soreness in his right middle finger.
National League Quick Hits: Starling Marte has yet to hit in spring training after injuring his left oblique earlier in camp. ... Reds Manager David Bell told reporters Sunday that Lucas Sims will likely not be ready for opening day. ... Jose Barrero has been diagnosed with a hamate injury in his left hand and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks. ... Carter Kieboom will miss four-to-six weeks with a forearm injury. ... Matthew Boyd signed a one-year, $5.2 million contract with the Giants. ... The Phillies re-signed Ronald Torreyes to a minor league contract. ... The Braves optioned Brooks Wilson to Triple-A. ... The Giants signed RHP Taylor Williams to a minor league contract. ... Austin Dean was designated for assignment. ... The Phillies placed Kent Emanuel on the 60-day injured list. ... The Braves signed Brock Holt and Brad Brach to minor league contracts.