The Boston Red Sox seem to take two steps back for every step forward this offseason. Just after signing Masataka Yoshida and Kenley Jansen in free agency, the Red Sox watched Xander Bogaerts depart for the San Diego Padres in free agency. And after finally signing Rafael Devers to a long-term extension, the Sox were dealt another crushing blow, as Trevor Story may reportedly miss the entire 2023 season after undergoing a procedure on his elbow.
Story was expected to be a big part of Boston’s lineup, even after he experienced a pretty poor debut season with the Sox (.238 BA, 16 HR, 66 RBI, .737 OPS). But with key cogs such as Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez gone, the expectation was that Story would take on a bigger role in the offense as a leader alongside Devers.
The Red Sox already had several holes to fill on their roster prior to Story’s injury update, and now they have another gaping hole in their middle infield. So with Story potentially missing the entire 2023 campaign, let’s take a look at two potential trades the Sox could make in an effort to fill the hole that Story has left behind in his absence.
2. Trade for Paul DeJong
In terms of a league average replacement for Story, Paul DeJong is a pretty attainable option for the Red Sox. DeJong struggled last season when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, and with Nolan Gorman making his way to the majors, they don’t really need DeJong anymore. This could provide the Cardinals an opportunity to move on from DeJong, while giving Boston their immediate replacement for Story this season.
DeJong was the Cardinals Opening Day shortstop last season, but he was so bad early on that he got demoted to Triple-A, and spent a decent chunk of the 2022 campaign in the minors. DeJong’s major league numbers last season aren’t good at all (.157 BA, 6 HR, 25 RBI, .530 OPS) and the Cardinals would probably take anything they could get for him.
From the Red Sox perspective, it may not seem like there would be much to gain from trading for DeJong. He hasn’t hit above .200 in his past two seasons, but prior to this cold stretch, he had been a solid contributor for St. Louis. He was an All-Star in 2019, and while he may never be able to reach those heights again, he should be a league-average player for the Red Sox in a starting capacity.
DeJong wouldn’t be a long-term replacement for Story, but rather a fill-in for him while he spends time on the sidelines. He does have potential to be an impact player for the Red Sox, but at this stage of the offseason, they can’t really be hoping to luck their way into a superstar player on the trade market, and that may force them to settle for DeJong.
1. Trade for Willy Adames
The closest thing to a superstar the Sox could get on the trade market at the middle infield spot is Willy Adames, and even then, that may not be totally likely to happen. The Milwaukee Brewers have been considering trading away some of their big name players this offseason, and one potential trade candidate is their starting shortstop in Adames.
Adames has turned into one of the better shortstops in the league since being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Brewers, although his numbers have been wildly varied throughout his career. After hitting .285 during his time with Milwaukee in 2021, Adames’ average fell all the way down to .238 in 2022, but he hit a career-high 31 home runs and drove in a career-high 98 runs to make up for it.
In a sense, this is somewhat similar to the production that the Red Sox would have been hoping for from Story when they signed him in free agency last offseason. Adames can hit for power as we saw last season, and he can hold his own in the field at shortstop as well. Not to mention, Adames is only 27 years old, so he could end up being a part of the Sox future past the 2023 season.
It may not seem totally likely, but this could actually be a really beneficial move, even once Story returns. There have been concerns over his throwing strength from the shortstop position, and they will likely only continue to hang around him thanks to this new elbow injury that has popped up. Story could conceivably stick at second base, and Adames could take over the shortstop position. It would certainly cost Boston more than a potential move for DeJong, but Adames would be the best possible replacement for Story in the 2023 season.