2023 MLB Fantasy: What is the impact of Trevor Story’s injury?

The Red Sox were dealt a big blow this week, as star infielder Trevor Story underwent surgery to repair his right elbow. The surgery is set to keep Story — a two-time All-Star that struggled in Boston last season — out for most, if not all of the regular season. The elbow injury to the Red Sox infielder is primed to leave ripple effects in both Boston, and in the world of fantasy baseball.

Related: 2023 Fantasy Profile: Paul Goldschmidt

A Look at Story

Infielder Trevor Story came to Boston after the two-time All Star inked a six-year, $140 million dollar deal with the Red Sox last winter. The longtime shortstop moved to second base to start the 2022 season, a campaign that didn’t go particularly well for Story. In 98 games, Story hit just .238 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs. 2022 marked the first time that Story hit less than 20 home runs in a year in which the 30-year-old played 90 or more games.

Story failed to play 100 games last season, as he missed a good chunk of the year thanks to hand and heel injuries.

While the infielder did produce a career-low ISO (.196) last season, Story still did fine when he did square up the ball. Story produced an above-average Barrel% (11.3%) in 2022. But, a career-low 11.7% pop-up rate and a well-below-average K% rate (30.8%) did him no favors in his first season in Boston.

After a tough 2022 campaign, Story wasn’t poised to be a top-five option at second in fantasy. However, Story’s past production and tools made the Sox infielder a starting 2B option nonetheless. The Red Sox infielder’s rehab will be a storyline to watch for later in the season, as Story could be a nice find in the free agent market once he fully heals. On the other hand, it’s possible that Story doesn’t return altogether. Avoid Story in fantasy baseball drafts this season.

How the Red Sox Can Replace Him

It will be hard for the Red Sox to replace the offensive impact of Trevor Story. Despite a below-average 2022 campaign, Story still finished the year as one of the better hitters on a now-depleted Red Sox team.

The departures of Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez already left this offense thinner heading into 2023. Add in Story’s injury, and the formula to score runs in Boston just got more complicated.

As far as potential replacements for Story goes, the Sox could look towards Enrique Hernández and Christian Arroyo internally to fill out the infield. Both did receive time in the infield last season. Arroyo, though, is more likely to see infield time. Hernández spent most of last season in center field for the Red Sox.

Now, are either interesting fantasy options this season? Hernández and Arroyo offer plenty of position flexibility, a plus for both. Arroyo performed fine across 87 games, as he hit .286 with six home runs and 36 RBIs. Plus, the 27-year-old did produce an above-average Hard Hit% (42.1%) last season. Hernández, meanwhile, hit just .222 and cracked only six home runs in 2022. That marked a statistical drop from Hernández’s 2021, in which the 31-year-old hit 20 home runs for the Sox.

Both could be depth options in fantasy, especially in 12-team leagues. However, both aren’t options until the final few rounds.

Boston could also look toward infielders that are available in free agency as stopgaps. Former Red Sox farmhand Jose Iglesias has hit well over the last three seasons, as the shortstop hit .293/.329/.409 from 2020-22. Iglesias won’t provide much pop, but the former Rockie has proven to be solid defensively. Elvis Andrus, who hit 17 home runs and swiped 18 bags in 2022, is also available. Additional infield options include Josh Harrison, Cesar Hernandez, and Donovan Solano. None of the internal and external options — aside from possibly Andrus — have meaningful fantasy potential in 2023.

One other point of interest with Story’s injury is the impact it may have on Rafael Devers. Devers is among the game’s best power hitters, but the lineup around Devers is far from ideal. The recently re-signed infielder has the potential to be a fantastic run producer in fantasy, but the third baseman needs lineup protection and players in front of him to consistently get on base. The losses that the Sox sustained in free agency, coupled with the injury to Story, is set to pose a problem to Devers’ fantasy value.

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