End of Story’s time? Rox may lose shortstop to free agency

MLB Baseball

DENVER (AP)Trevor Story’s time in Denver may have just reached its final chapter.

The Colorado Rockies’ standout shortstop is driven by one prevailing theme as he hits free agency – winning.

Story insisted he hasn’t ruled anyone out, including Colorado, which drafted him No. 45 overall in 2011. But the Rockies are coming off a third straight losing season. And they did trade one of his good friends, Nolan Arenado, last offseason.

”Winning is at the top of the list and that’s something that has always meant the most to me,” Story said. ”I think this is a chance for me to kind of see where that’s at.”

Another cornerstone Rockies player may be exiting just as he’s hitting his prime. Last February, it was Arenado who left as the disgruntled third baseman was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals and now is heading back to the postseason.

The playoffs is a place the Rockies haven’t visited since back-to-back seasons in 2017 and ’18.

”I’m kind of frustrated watching a lot of the same teams play on TV in October,” said outfielder Charlie Blackmon, whose team finished 74-87 this season and 32 1/2 games behind NL West-winning San Francisco. ”I’d much rather it be us.”

The Rockies did make a big move just before the end of the season – with their GM.

Bill Schmidt had his interim label removed after filling in for Jeff Bridich, who parted ways with the team in April.

Courting Story figures to be at the top of Schmidt’s to-do list. There’s also trying to bring back pitcher Jon Gray – second in franchise history in strikeouts (849) – and first baseman C.J. Cron, who hit .281 with a team-leading 28 homers after signing a free-agent deal last February.

”We’re going to work hard to deliver a consistent winning club to our fans,” said Schmidt, who’s been with the organization since Oct. 1, 1999, when he began in the scouting department.

Story could be in high demand. He finished the season with 24 homers and 20 stolen bases. He joined Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, Darryl Strawberry, Andruw Jones, Ryan Braun and Mike Trout as the only players to amass 150 homers and 100 steals over their first six seasons.

”I honestly feel that I haven’t played my best ball. I think that’s ahead of me,” said Story, who turns 29 in November. ”I know that consistency is ahead of me. … That and just the the prospect of winning is what’s always driven me.”

He’s certainly appreciated by his teammates. That’s why Blackmon helped organize a surprise for Story last Wednesday in what may have been his last game at Coors Field in purple pinstripes. Story ran onto the diamond all alone, receiving the spotlight and applause from the fans. The gesture caught him off guard – and it meant a lot.

After the game – a 4-for-4 day with a walk – Story handed out souvenirs to fans, including his cleats.

Blackmon doesn’t plan on giving him any sales pitches but will be there as a confidante should Story need someone to listen.

”The best thing for the Rockies is to have a talent like Trevor Story,” Blackmon said. ”But at the same time I want what’s best for Trevor.”

GRAY AREA

Gray finished 8-12 with a 4.59 ERA as he finished up his seventh season with Colorado and heads into free agency. The No. 3 overall pick in 2013, Gray sits in fifth place in franchise history for games started (151) and sixth in innings pitched (829 1/3).

HOME SWEET HOME

Manager Bud Black and the Rockies finished 48-33 at home, tied for their sixth-best mark at Coors Field. But it couldn’t make up for a horrific start on the road. Colorado was 6-31 on the road through June and finished 26-54 (a game at Atlanta wasn’t made up).

THE ARMS

Colorado pitchers turned in the third-most strikeouts in team history with 1,269. The ’18 squad holds the record with the 1,409. All-Star German Marquez led the way with 176 strikeouts to go with a 12-11 record.

GONE FISHIN’

Blackmon will soon reflect back on his season. First, though, a camping trip in the Colorado mountains with the family.

It’s his way to escape after a season in which he hit .270 with 13 homers.

Blackmon, 35, moved past Carlos Gonzalez for the second-most games played in a Rockies uniform. He also surpassed Hall of Famer Larry Walker for the second-most hits in franchise history.

”I did a few things well,” Blackmon said. ”But not as much as I would like.”

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