Boston Red Sox

Red Sox shortstop outlook: Trevor Story is the X factor for Boston

Story hasn't lived up to the $140 million contract he signed in 2022.

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Boston Red Sox spring training workouts are set to begin when pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Fla. on Feb. 14. Full squad workouts begin on Feb. 19.

Ahead of spring training, we're assessing the Red Sox's situation at each position for the 2024 campaign. We'll break down the players expected to play the position for Boston in 2024, followed by a confidence grade. These positional outlooks will be updated as moves are made in the offseason.

In this installment of the series, we focus on the shortstop position.

Trevor Story

Story hopes his third season with Boston will be the charm because his first two have left plenty to be desired. Since signing his six-year, $140 million deal with the Red Sox, Story has appeared in just 137 games. He missed 68 games in 2022 due to right-hand and left-heel contusions, then the first 112 games of the 2023 campaign after undergoing elbow surgery in the offseason.

When he's been able to take the field, Story hasn't lived up to expectations. The 31-year-old -- a two-time Silver Slugger award winner with the Colorado Rockies -- has hit a paltry .227 with 19 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a .685 OPS with Boston.

Red Sox shortstop Trevor Story
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Trevor Story needs his third season with the Red Sox to be his best.

Story's value has exclusively come from his above-average defense. The shortstop position was a disaster for the Red Sox last season before Story returned from injury. At the very least, he'll give Boston significantly better defense up the middle than it had for most of 2023.

That said, Story knows the Red Sox desperately need him to step it up at the plate in 2024.

"I pride myself on being a well-rounded player,” Story said at the team’s annual Winter Weekend event, per “And I know that's who I am. And I haven't shown that over the first couple years here in Boston. The defense has been there, but I’m really excited to show Boston and the fans who I am as a total package. I feel like it's kind of the first time I'll be able to do that.”

Story is expected to bat in the cleanup spot to complement left-handed bats Rafael Devers, Triston Casas, and Masataka Yoshida. If he can regain his Rockies form, he'll be a game-changer for the Red Sox this upcoming season.

Pablo Reyes

Note: Reyes is also mentioned in our second base outlook.

In mid-May 2023, the Red Sox acquired Reyes from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for cash considerations. The move came amid injuries and lackluster performances for the middle of Boston's infield.

Reyes figured to be nothing more than a depth addition who would spend most of his time at Triple-A Worcester. The 30-year-old couldn't find a consistent role on Oakland's roster, so he came to Boston with little to no expectations. He ended up making a legitimate impact.

His biggest moment came on Aug. 7 when he belted a walk-off grand slam vs. the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. He finished the year with a .716 OPS in 64 games while splitting time between second base and shortstop.

Pablo Reyes
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Pablo Reyes was a pleasant surprise for the Red Sox in 2023.

If Reyes makes the team in 2024, he'll pick up where he left off as a middle infield depth piece. He's a decent insurance policy if second baseman Vaughn Grissom struggles or Story suffers another setback.

Shortstop confidence grade: C

The Red Sox are banking on a bounce-back year out of a healthy Trevor Story. If the injury bug bites him again, the middle of the infield will be in shambles for the second straight year. And even if he does stay on the field, there's no guarantee he'll ever look like the guy the Red Sox thought they were getting when they signed him in free agency. He needs to take a giant step forward offensively for that to happen, and nothing he has done through his first two seasons in Boston has shown he's capable of making that step.

It's impossible to enter the 2024 season confident in the shortstop spot after what we witnessed last year, and now there's even less depth at the position.

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