Trevor Story's first season with the Red Sox did not go according to plan, and his second season has been derailed before it has even begun. The team announced Tuesday that Story will undergo surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow.
Story is having an internal brace procedure rather than traditional Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery, and the good news is, that's a procedure that typically knocks off a significant amount of time off the recovery process. Still, Story is likely to, per reports, and coming off a season that saw him hit just .238 in 94 games, it casts a serious pall over his Fantasy outlook for 2023.
Prior to the injury, Story sat No. 5 in Average Draft Position among second basemen at NFBC drafts, with an overall ADP of 73.4. That's going to drop significantly, and while I haven't fully updated my rankings for the 2023 season – they'll be live on CBSSports.com in mid-January along with those of Frank Stampfl and Scott White – I did get to second base today, and obviously, Story takes a big hit.
My initial reaction was to drop Story to No. 16 at second base, which is a pretty big tumble. Second base is one of the weakest positions for 2023, but I can't justify keeping Story ranked ahead of the likes of Ketel Marte, Jonathan India, Jeff McNeil, Luis Arraez, or Jake Cronenworth, all of whom will rank ahead of him. Sure, he could come back by May and be himself, but the Red Sox have already said they aren't counting on it – Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters Tuesday that a 2023 return is "not something at this stage we want to bank on."
And, of course, Story will miss the entire run up to the season while recovering from the injury, so he'll have to hit the ground running whenever he's able to come back. It wasn't unreasonable to hope for a bounceback from Story, but this injury makes the degree of difficulty quite a bit higher. At his best, Story has been a five-category stud for Fantasy, and while I don't think we expect the batting average to ever get back to what it was in Colorado, he could still be a very good contributor if he's right.
This might make it more likely he'll be right in the long run since he's getting a lingering issue fixed, but it definitely increases the risk of Story getting there in 2023. The upside is still high enough that I'm willing to take a chance on it in the second half of drafts and hope I'm getting a rare difference maker at second base, but the price has to be right.
This injury, of course, also highlights a serious lack of up-the-middle depth for the Red Sox. Story was expected to move back to shortstop after playing second base exclusively in 2022, but that was only because they already lost Xander Bogaerts in free agency to the Padres. This injury will likely force Enrique Hernandez back to shortstop, with Christian Arroyo likely to stay at second base. Hernandez is a fine option wherever the Red Sox stick him, but Arroyo, a career .263/.307/.400 hitter, is likely stretched a bit thin as an everyday player unless the improvements he made to his strikeout rate last season stick. This injury probably does make him a bit more interesting as a deep second-base option, but there probably isn't a ton of upside – the ceiling for Arroyo is probably something like .280 with 15 homers and 15 steals.
The Red Sox may still look to make an addition, but obviously there aren't a ton of great choices left at this point – Josh Harrison and Cesar Hernandez would probably be improvements on Arroyo, and Elvis Andrus could be as well, but that's about it. Andrus would be an interesting fit coming off a bounce-back season of his own if the Red Sox opt to go in that direction.
But the loss of Story for at least a few months certainly lowers the ceiling of a team that already didn't appear to have a particularly high one, and it makes Story just a late-round flier in most Fantasy drafts at this point.