Milwaukee Brewers: Now Is The Time To Sign Travis Shaw To An Extension

The Milwaukee Brewers struck gold when they acquired Travis Shaw and a couple prospects from the Red Sox for Tyler Thornburg. Now is the time to reward Shaw’s production with a contract extension.

Travis Shaw has played the last two years for the Milwaukee Brewers under a nearly league minimum salary. But he has not provided league minimum type production. Such is the case with young, pre-arbitration eligible players, but now is the time to pay the man.

There are a couple of reasons the Brewers should want to sign Shaw to a long-term deal. Let’s start with the simplest one.

Shaw Is Really Good

In two years as a Brewer, Travis Shaw has blossomed into a quality hitter that can hit for power, draw his walks, and be a run producer in the middle of the lineup. Here are Shaw’s stats over the past two seasons.

  • .258/.347/.497, 57 doubles, 63 homers, 187 RBIs, 138 walks, 120 OPS+

With Shaw’s .844 OPS as a Brewers, he’s clearly established himself as an above average hitter. Sure his batting average took a dip in 2018, but he also had a career low .242 BAbip, which was right in line with his .241 batting average. Luck was not on his side in 2018.

Shaw has hit 30+ home runs two years in a row now. He drove in over 100 runs in 2017 and had 86 RBIs this year.

Not to mention, his strikeout rate dropped this year. He was at a 22.8% K rate in 2017 and knocked it down to 18.4% this season.

On defense, Shaw is also pretty good. He was worth +9 DRS at third base this year, which is where he’s likely headed back to next season.

Shaw Is Entering Arbitration

This winter, Travis Shaw will go through his first round of arbitration. He gets three rounds of it before reaching free agency. He’s scheduled to become a free agent after the 2021 season.

There are certain statistics that arbitration pays higher for than others. One of those stats that gets players a bigger salary is home runs. With two straight seasons of 30+ home runs, his projection currently sits at $5.1 million. And that price tag is just going to go higher and higher the more he hits.

There is very little cost certainty for the organization going year-by-year in arbitration with a slugger like Shaw. And for a small market, limited budget team like the Brewers, cost certainty is a very important thing.

What Kind Of Extension Should Shaw Get?

Shaw is currently 28 years old and will be 31, soon to be 32 years old when he’s currently scheduled to enter free agency. These are his prime years.

I would expect Shaw to get an extension in the range of 4-5 years with an AAV of $10-14 million, as the salary could be back-loaded or front-loaded, depending on how David Stearns wants to structure it.

If the Brewers go with a four year deal, the amount of money he’s guaranteed should range from $40-56 million guaranteed. If it’s a five year contract, the money should be somewhere between $50-70 million.

Shaw can hit for power, have a solid OBP, doesn’t strike out much, and is a versatile defender that’s a good clubhouse guy. This is exactly the kind of player David Stearns wants on his team and would want to sign long term.

Should the Milwaukee Brewers lock up Shaw for the next several years, they not only keep a powerful left handed bat besides Christian Yelich, they also get cost certainty over a player whose arbitration salaries would continue to skyrocket if he went year-to-year.

Last year at this time, the Brewers signed Chase Anderson to an extension. This year, Travis Shaw should be the player that gets his payday in the offseason.

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The Milwaukee Brewers won’t have as much wiggle room with money as they did in the past, but Shaw should definitely be a priority to keep around the next several years.