The Milwaukee Brewers had Travis Shaw for a number of years. After spending 2020 with the Blue Jays, could he return to the Crew?
In 2017, Shaw hit .273 with 34 doubles, 31 homers, 101 RBIs and had an .862 OPS. Then in 2018, Shaw followed up by hitting .241 with 23 doubles, 32 homers, 86 RBIs, and an .825 OPS.
Two very productive seasons in Milwaukee, but then disaster struck in 2019. Shaw couldn’t get going at the plate, starting off slow and then pressing to break out of it, which only made his slump worse.
After extremely poor numbers that year, the Brewers non-tendered Shaw. Things were a little… frosty at the end of his tenure. Shaw was being sent up and down from the majors to the minors and back, trying to work out of his slump all year before the eventual non-tender. Shaw’s agent even said “If Travis can be in a spot where a team just trusts and believes in him, they’ll get tremendous results”.
Sounds like Shaw’s representation and the Brewers didn’t end things on the best of terms.
Could Travis Shaw come back to Milwaukee?
Given how things appeared to go down last year, a Shaw return might be a tail-between-the-legs moment for David Stearns. The Brewers non-tendered him and Shaw’s agent believes the Brewers didn’t trust Shaw. That’s something that’s hard to get back.
The Brewers let him go, and then they suffered from an extreme lack of production at third base in 2020. Meanwhile, Shaw signed with the Blue Jays and hit .239/.306/.411 with six home runs in the shortened season. He was far better than he was in 2019, but still didn’t quite get his numbers back to 2017-18 levels.
It would be nice for the Brewers to get Shaw back to his 30 home runs a year level of production, but that’s far from a guarantee. Perhaps bringing him back after a year away will help him regain that form. But also, perhaps bringing him back will stir up memories of 2019 when he struggled and it could make things worse for him.
Given the salary range Shaw is likely to command, he’s likely to fall within the Brewers price range, so a return is possible. Before that happens though, both sides are going to need to have a heart-to-heart about how things went down in 2019 and if both sides can trust each other.
Shaw’s agent didn’t appear to believe the Brewers trusted Shaw. It’s kind of hard to sign a contract to return to someone you think doesn’t trust you. If they can bury the hatchet, a deal can be made.
Whether or not bringing back Shaw is the right deal for the Brewers is a different question. The last time Shaw posted an above-average OPS+ was in 2018, two seasons have passed since then. The Brewers might be better served bringing in someone with a more recent track record of producing.
Shaw is a big, left handed hitter. Miller Park was a very friendly home to him in the past, but this might be a case where the two are better off apart going forward.