The Rockies have requested release waivers on relievers Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee, per Jeff Passan of ESPN.com (via Twitter) and Thomas Harding of MLB.com (Twitter link). Barring the extremely unlikely event of a claim, both players will return to the open market.
When last these veteran hurlers tested the waters, they found irresistible bait dangling from the Rockies’ line. Both were lured to Denver with three-year, $27MM deals in December of 2017. Closer Wade Davis followed soon after with a three-year, $52MM pact.
At the time, the hope was that installing a trio of established late-inning arms would put the Rox over the top. It’s not as if any of the hurlers took down much more than was anticipated entering the offseason. But it was a significant risk to add all three. The Rockies were obviously prepared to accept the downside scenario, but surely didn’t think it could work out as poorly as it did.
Shaw, long a high-quality setup man, has limped to a 5.61 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 126 2/3 innings in Colorado. The 32-year-old struggled in Cactus League action this spring. McGee, soon to turn 34, carries a 5.54 ERA in his 92 2/3 frames since re-signing. While he owns a sturdy-enough combination of 8.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9, he has allowed two dingers per nine over the past two years.
So, is Coors Field to blame? Shaw was actually quite a lot better at home than on the road last year, so it doesn’t seem to explain much in his case. The opposite is true of McGee. Then again, the more revealing split may be in the platoon department. He was tuned up by right-handed hitters (.326/.390/.663) in 2019.
This move won’t really save the Rockies any money, but it’ll clear the deck for other players and wipe out some final earning possibilities for each of the two veterans.
Shaw’s deal promised him $9MM this year, so he’s still due the pro-rated portion of that. He’ll also get a $2MM buyout on a $9MM option, which would’ve been guaranteed with just forty appearances (had it been a full 2020 season). McGee needed 65 appearances (full season) for his $9MM option to vest. Instead, he’ll earn a pro-rated portion of his $9.5MM salary for 2020 and will also still be due a $2MM buyout.