Five home runs and an .865 OPS in 17 games doesn't buy a rookie as long a leash as it once did, apparently. Monday afternoon the Brewers announced rookie second baseman Keston Hiura has been optioned down to Triple-A. The move clears a roster spot for third baseman Travis Shaw, who was activated off the injured list. He was out with a wrist issue.
Hiura, 22, had those five home runs with a .281/.333/.531 batting line in his limited time with Milwaukee. He hit three home runs in his last five games, including a game-tying two-run shot against Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez on Saturday.
"We believe that Travis has earned the right to play at the major league level right now," GM David Stearns told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "And he's healthy. He's gone and done his rehab assignment, and we believe that it's time for him to come back."
Shaw struggled before the wrist injury -- it is entirely possible the nagging injury contributed to his struggles -- hitting .163/.266/.281 with four home runs in 40 games. He went on the injured list, Mike Moustakas shifted over to third base, and Hiura took over at second. Now Shaw is back and Moustakas is returning to third base.
Realistically, the Brewers had three options with Shaw set to return from the injured list:
- Demote Hiura to Triple-A.
- Demote Shaw to Triple-A. He has an option remaining and would not require waivers.
- Designate the out of options Jesus Aguilar (.190/.301/.307) for assignment.
Aguilar has struggled pretty much all season, so much so that Eric Thames is getting more action at first base. That said, he was one of the most productive first basemen in the game last year, and the Brewers aren't ready to cut bait just yet. They want to give Aguilar more time to work through things.
"I think we always have to keep in mind that this is a long season, and preserving organizational depth, preserving options throughout the entirety of the season is something that we think is really important," Stearns told McCalvy. "It's something that we have focused on over the last couple of years, and it has served us well ... It behooves us to make sure we have as much depth and as much flexibility as possible."
Demoting Shaw certainly would not be undeserved given his performance to date. Similar to Aguilar, the Brewers want to give him time to work on things now. Shaw has been a very productive player the last two seasons. Milwaukee is not ready to ship him to Triple-A after 40 poor games. They are willing to be patient with him. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I'm just sayin'.
Hiura has already spent enough time in the minors this season to push his free agency back from the 2024-25 offseason to the 2025-26 offseason. The Brewers would have to keep him in Triple-A until roughly mid August to prevent him from becoming a Super Two. Super Twos go through arbitration four times instead of the usual three.
At 34-26, the Brewers came into Monday with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central. They went 10-7 with Hiura on the roster.