Eight Shortstops Red Sox Could Target After Trevor Story Injury

Boston is very thin up the middle

by

January 11

Trevor Story’s injury compounded an issue that already existed for the Boston Red Sox.

Who will play shortstop — and second base, for that matter — in 2023?

Xander Bogaerts’ departure obviously left a huge void, which the Red Sox planned to address by shifting Story to shortstop, his natural position with the Colorado Rockies before moving to second base with Boston in 2022. That would have left Christian Arroyo as the leading candidate to play the keystone, though the Red Sox also could’ve added to the middle of their infield and/or leaned on Kiké Hernández’s defensive versatility despite his excellent glove work in center field.

Now, with Story undergoing a right elbow procedure Monday that’ll likely sideline him for several months, the Red Sox have even more to figure out. And there are several ways Boston could go about piecing together its lineup. Hernández, for example, could move to the infield full-time if the Red Sox have better luck pursuing another outfielder or two. Or maybe the Red Sox simply find a new body capable of holding down shortstop, with the hope being Story can contribute later this season.

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The reality is there’s no easy, obvious fix. Which makes this a difficult exercise. But here are eight shortstops — four free agents and four trade candidates — the Red Sox hypothetically could target while trying to solve arguably their biggest conundrum ahead of the new campaign.

FREE AGENTS
Elvis Andrus
The longtime Texas Rangers shortstop is coming off a decent season split between the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox. He posted a 103 OPS+, the third-best mark of his 14-year Major League Baseball career and his best since 2017. At age 34, Andrus isn’t the base-stealing threat he was in his prime, during which he earned two All-Star selections, but he’s still a good defender. You could do worse.

José Iglesias
The Red Sox are very familiar with Iglesias, with it being his first MLB organization and welcoming him back for a second stint in 2021. His offensive production is volatile, as he doesn’t walk much or impact the baseball with authority, but he’d be a decent fit on a one-year deal. The problem is his defense isn’t what it was when he came up through the Red Sox system more than a decade ago.

Didi Gregorius
It’s been three years since Gregorius was a productive major leaguer. And his back-to-back top-20 MVP finishes with the New York Yankees in 2017 and 2018 now feel like a distant memory. But there was a point when Derek Jeter’s successor in the Bronx showcased some pop. Maybe Gregorius can turn back the clock in his age-33 season.

Andrelton Simmons
Another slap-hitting veteran in the twilight of his career? Look, we told you the Red Sox are in a tough spot, especially with Carlos Correa, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson — three high-profile free-agent shortstops this offseason — off the board in addition to Bogaerts. But Simmons long was known for his defensive prowess, earning four Gold Glove Awards between 2013 and 2018. If nothing else, the 33-year-old is a viable, available big leaguer who’s likely attainable at a low cost.

TRADE CANDIDATES
Ha-Seong Kim, San Diego Padres
What if Bogaerts and Kim simply switched spots? Obviously, that’s a downgrade for Boston when painted as such, but Kim is a good, versatile infielder who’s coming off a 2022 season in which he posted 3.7 fWAR, the 11th-best mark among MLB shortstops. He’s also only 27 and on a team-friendly contract, meaning the Red Sox would need to part with legitimate talent to pry him away from San Diego, but it’s definitely a worthwhile consideration given Boston’s glaring need up the middle.

Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins
Rojas is a glove-first option who’s turning 34 and entering the final year of his contract with Miami. The Red Sox should see about trading for one of the Marlins’ available starting pitchers (or maybe even fellow infielder Joey Wendle) along with Rojas. But even if such talks go nowhere, a smaller deal for Rojas could make sense given his defensive upside and the potentially low cost of acquisition.

Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals
This would be a dart throw, seeing as Mondesi was limited to 50 games the last two seasons due to injuries and proved inconsistent with the bat in the years before that. But he’s still just 27 and showed flashes of being a dynamic player shortly after arriving in the majors, thanks to both his defense and his speed. Mondesi, a free agent next offseason, swiped 99 bases in 236 games between 2018 and 2020.

Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers
OK, so this is a pie-in-the-sky scenario. The Brewers probably aren’t going to trade Adames, a 27-year-old who thrived with Milwaukee the last two seasons after a trade from the Tampa Bay Rays. And the Red Sox might have some trepidation about relinquishing the assets it’d likely require to land Adames. But Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom presumably is familiar with Adames from their time together in the Rays organization. Adames slashed .238/.298/.458 with 31 home runs and 98 RBIs in 139 games (617 plate appearances) in 2022. He’s under club control through 2024.

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Ross/USA TODAY Sports Images
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