The Milwaukee Brewers have a very good, very underrated player in third baseman/second baseman Travis Shaw. But is he a long term piece for the Crew?
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) posted his weekly notes column Friday morning. This week’s edition included some interesting tidbits about the Milwaukee Brewers.
Latest notes: Inside the #Marlins’ trade strategy on Realmuto; why #Yankees’ talks with MIA did not progress; reasons for delays in Harper and Machado signings; latest on #Brewers; an update on Ryan Madson; much more. https://t.co/yq4Xe6Ob4J $
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 8, 2019
Rosenthal offers some insight on the Brewers pursuit of Mike Moustakas and the possibility of adding another starting pitcher. But there’s one note in particular that stood out.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Travis Shaw are NOT discussing a long term deal.
What Does Shaw’s Contract Look Like?
Travis Shaw. 28, has just entered his first year of arbitration, and he settled with the Brewers on a $4.675 million contract. He has two more years of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Should They Sign Him To An Extension?
Shaw has proven himself to be an excellent player and an excellent teammate. When the Brewers added Mike Moustakas last year, Shaw was willing to take the personal hit and move to second base to accommodate Moustakas. He didn’t whine or complain about the move, and was happy to move and benefit the team.
In 2017, his first year in Milwaukee, Shaw knocked 34 doubles, with 31 homers, 101 RBIs, and a .273/.349/.513 slash line. His .862 OPS was the 3rd highest on the club that year, behind Eric Thames and Domingo Santana, each of whom hit 30+ homers that year. He also had the most total bases on the team that season.
2018 was a bit of a step back for Shaw when it came to some of his stats. He hit just .241, but had a solid .345 OBP and .480 SLG, enough for a .825 OPS, which is still a quality season. Shaw popped 32 homers last year, but just 23 doubles. Also, he drew 18 more walks and cut down his strikeout total by 30.
What hurt Shaw in 2018 was his .242 BABIP. That’s one of the lowest full season BABIP totals I’ve seen. He was extremely unlucky when it came to balls in play in 2018. 2019 should be a different story for Shaw.
For years, the Milwaukee Brewers have been searching for a long term answer at third base, and Travis Shaw appears to be it on the surface. If he continues to have 30+ home run seasons, his arbitration salaries will continue to skyrocket. It might be in the best interest for the Brewers to get some cost certainty over their young, quality corner infielder.
Why Wouldn’t The Brewers Sign Shaw To An Extension?
The Brewers do have third base prospect Lucas Erceg down on the farm. The former second round pick didn’t have a great 2018 season, but he’s shown in the past that he has a big bat with a ton of power. It’s not clear if he’ll have 30+ homers a season type power, but it’s close.
Erceg spent all of 2018 in Double-A and is close to the big leagues. With another young, stud third baseman coming up from the minors, it might be easier to pay Erceg league minimum and let Shaw walk instead of paying him eight figures a season. With a stretched payroll already, and other members of their core to pay in the future, perhaps the Brewers view Shaw as expendable when free agency arrives in 2021.
Personally, I believe that’s a mistake and the Brewers should look to sign Shaw to a long term deal. He’s a prime bounceback candidate in 2019 and he’s provided the Brewers with a lot of value over the past two years.
Perhaps the Milwaukee Brewers feel it’s too early to enter into extension talks with Travis Shaw. He still has two years of arbitration left. If he has another strong season hitting around .270/.350/.500 with 30+ homers, that might be enough to convince David Stearns to begin contract negotiations with Shaw and his agent.
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If the Brewers are going to remain contenders, they’re going to have to spend their money wisely. They can’t be tied up in bad contracts if they want to avoid another rebuild at the end of this contention window.