The Rockies have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this offseason (well, not quite to the extent that several other MLB clubs have, but you get the point). Pending the finalization of the Cubs’ reported deal with Steven Souza Jr., Colorado will be the only team that has not signed a major-league free agent — a development that has evidently angered franchise player Nolan Arenado, who publicly criticized GM Jeff Bridich earlier this week and said he felt “a lot of disrespect” from the organization for its lack of desire to build around him coming off a 71-91 season.
While Friday night’s move doesn’t actually make the Rockies any better than they were before, at least they’re committing some guaranteed money, as they’ve signed two-time All-Star shortstop Trevor Story to a two-year, $27.5 million deal, a move that was first reported to be close by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Jon Morosi. ESPN’s Jeff Passan provided the financial figures:
SS Trevor Story and the Rockies are nearing a multi-year deal, sources tell me and @jonmorosi. The deal could be done within the next 24 hours, though it would still be pending physical. Story ($11.5M) and the Rockies ($10.75M) were $750K apart in salary arbitration figures.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 25, 2020
Shortstop Trevor Story and the Colorado Rockies are in agreement on a two-year, $27.5 million contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. It buys out the final two years of arbitration for Story, who will reach free agency at 29 as part of the vaunted Class of 2021-22.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2020
As Feinsand’s tweet alluded to, the Rockies and Story were prepared to go to arbitration over a $750,000 difference in perceived value. This move prevents them from having to go through that process, which is often awkward and has been known to ruin relationships between front offices and players at times. It’s important to preserve that relationship in the event that the Rockies end up trading Arenado — a possibility that certainly seems more likely after the past week’s events — as the 27-year-old Story would appear to be next in line as the face of the franchise.
More than anything, this deal essentially amounts to Story taking guaranteed money where he can get it rather than taking the small chance that an injury or a dreadful 2020 season would cause him to be non-tendered — or the more realistic possibility that he wouldn’t earn what he’s worth from an arbitration hearing or through a series of one-year deals from the Rockies. He’ll still be a free agent after the 2021 season — and if the Rockies aren’t able to re-sign him, that could cause the organization to crumble more than it already has, as Arenado has an opt-out at the same time.
Story has quietly developed into one of the majors’ best shortstops, hitting .276/.341/.537 over four seasons while averaging 37 homers per 162 games. He posted a career-best 6.4 bWAR in 2019, hitting .294/.363/.554 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, and 17 defensive runs saved at shortstop.