File this one away.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that “at least one team has reached out to the Colorado Rockies about Trevor Story with the idea of playing him in center field.”
While Odúbel Herrera and Travis Jankowski have improved center field from the black hole that it was the first month or so of the season, the Phillies have already been connected to a few potential upgrades in Starling Marte and Byron Buxton. When you look around at potential buyers, it’s not hard to envision Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies being a suitor for Story, with the thought that he could play center field for the remainder of the season, as they attempt to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The Phillies — if they are they are indeed the anonymous team referred to in this report — wouldn’t be the first team to consider using Story as a rental at a position other than shortstop. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier this month that the Chicago White Sox have interest in acquiring Story to play second base. Seemingly, though, center field would be more of an adjustment for Story, who has never played a position other than shortstop at the major league level.
In theory, the Phillies could trade for Story only guaranteed a few months of his services, with the plan to attempt to re-sign him to play shortstop after 2021. After all, Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports reported back in March that the Phillies were among a trio of teams seen around the sport as likely to be players in the pool of star shortstops that could become free agents after this season. Story is at the forefront of that group, and while Didi Gregorius is under contract for $14.5 million in 2022, the incumbent shortstop has -7 defensive runs saved in 2021, so a position change may be in order next season anyway.
It should be noted that if the Phillies acquired Story, they wouldn’t be able to extend a qualifying offer to him after the year to assure that they’d receive draft compensation if he signed elsewhere in free agency. You have to be on a team’s roster for the entire season for them to extend a qualifying offer, which means the Rockies could offer one to Story this offseason if they hold onto him past the July 30 trade deadline. That also means that the Phillies or any other suitor will have to offer enough to acquire Story for the Rockies to believe they will be getting more value than they would by just recouping draft compensation when Story would inevitably depart after the season.
While Jayson Stark and Matt Gelb of The Athletic reported Wednesday that the Phillies appear to believe that bullpen and starting rotation help are more pressing needs than center field, the duo also added that the Phillies “haven’t ruled out” making an upgrade in center field. And if Dombrowski likes to do anything, it’s make splash transactions.
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