8:28 am: As expected today, Travis Shaw informed the Brewers of his plans to execute an opt-out clause in his contract if the Brewers did not guarantee his contract for the 2021 season. The Brewers complied, guaranteeing Shaw $1.5MM in 2021 with an additional $1.5MM in incentives still on the table, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). The Brewers 40-man roster is currently full, so they will need to make a corresponding move before officially adding Shaw to the payroll.
Shaw will likely open the season as the Brewers starting third baseman, though it’s reasonable to expect he’ll be rested against southpaws. With right-handers Luis Urias and Orlando Arcia competing at shortstop, plus another right-hander in Daniel Robertson as a potential bench bat, there are more than enough options to take the small side of a straight platoon. For his career, Shaw is a 110 wRC+ hitter against right-handers and a 79 wRC+ hitter against lefties. If Shaw is able to produce at that rate against right-handed pitchers in 2021, he’ll more than cover the cost of his salary.
Of course, averages don’t tell nearly the whole picture in Shaw’s case. His best seasons in the Majors came in Milwaukee as he posted a 3.5 fWAR campaign in 2017 and backed it up with a 3.7 fWAR season in 2018. His worst year came immediately after, however, as Shaw and the Brewers saw his production tumble to a shocking .157/.281/.270 line across 270 plate appearances worth -0.8 fWAR. He found more of a middle ground in his one season with the Blue Jays, slashing .239/.306/.411 over 180 plate appearances with a 8.9 percent walk rate and 27.8 percent strikeout rate. That’s a slightly below-average walk rate and slightly above-average strikeout rate, but he did, at least, cut down his strikeouts after striking out 33.0 percent of the time during his disastrous 2019 campaign.