Boston’s Trevor Story has elbow surgery, 2023 season at risk

James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON – Trevor Story had surgery on his throwing elbow and is expected to miss most – if not all – of this season, delaying Boston’s plan to shift him across the infield to replace Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said that Story underwent an internal bracing procedure on his right ulnar collateral ligament. The operation is less drastic than the full ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction known as Tommy John surgery, which usually leads to a year of rehab.

“I certainly would not rule out a return some time during 2023,” Bloom said during a news conference, a day after Texas Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister operated on Story’s right elbow. “But it’s also not something at this stage we want to bank on.”

Bloom said Story experienced pain in the elbow just before Christmas while “ramping up” to get ready for the season. The internal bracing procedure is a more recent innovation than the ligament reconstruction pioneered on John in 1974 and has less of a track record that can be used to estimate a time for Story to return. Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle underwent a similar procedure last July, ending his season.

But even an optimistic four- to six-month timetable further upends the Red Sox infield in an offseason when Bogaerts signed with San Diego as a free agent. Story, a two-time All-Star at shortstop in six seasons with Colorado, had played second for Boston.

“It was still an open question, where we hadn’t set anything in stone,” Bloom said. “He was preparing to play shortstop. His hope was that if Xander left, it would be an opportunity that he would get. And that’s where his head was.”

Story moved to second base when he signed with Boston last offseason, batting .238 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs, appearing in 94 games while fighting injuries to his wrist and heel. The Red Sox finished last in the AL East.

“When Trevor was out there, we were a playoff-caliber team,” Bloom said. “For all the ups and downs he had this season, he showed all of why we brought him here. … We’re still excited for that. It stinks that we’re going to have to wait.”

Another option at shortstop, Minnesota’s Carlos Correa, agreed to a deal with the Twins earlier Tuesday, though he has twice come to terms on deals that fell through after a physical exam.

Bloom said the Red Sox considered Correa but declined to elaborate. “You can bet that when there’s impactful players at positions of need, we’re staying engaged,” he said.

Kike Hernandez also is a possibility at shortstop. He played 173 games in the Boston outfield over the past two seasons, along with 58 at second base and 18 at shortstop.

“I would expect that we’re going to add” players, Bloom said. “We’re a man down, so we’re going to have to fortify ourselves further.”

Bloom also said that left-hander Chris Sale, who has pitched just 48 innings in the past three seasons, should be ready for spring training.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.