The Brewers and Blue Jays effectively swapped veteran sluggers this week. A few days after Milwaukee signed Justin Smoak to a one-year contract, the Blue Jays have signed Travis Shaw to a one-year deal according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi and Mark Feinsand. Toronto has not yet confirmed the deal.
Shaw's new contract guarantees him $4 million. Here is the incentive structure:
- $175,000 for reaching 350 plate appearances.
- $125,000 each for 400, 450, 500, and 550 plate appearances.
- Contract can max out at $4.675 million.
The Brewers non-tendered Shaw earlier this month rather than pay him a projected $4.7 million through arbitration next season. If he's able to max out his incentives, Shaw will exactly match his 2019 salary in 2020. Also, the Blue Jays can retain him as an arbitration-eligible player in 2021.
Shaw, 29, struggled greatly with Milwaukee this past season. He hit .157/.281/.270 with seven home runs in 86 games and spent part of the summer in Triple-A, where he hit .286/.437/.586 with 12 home runs in 42 games. The Blue Jays are banking on Shaw returning to his 2017-18 form -- he hit .258/.347/.496 with 63 homers those two years -- with a change of scenery.
Toronto will presumably use Shaw as part of a first base/DH timeshare with Rowdy Tellez, who swatted 21 homers in 111 games this past season. Shaw can also move over to third base whenever Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sits or DHs. Manager Charlie Montoyo's lineup figures to look something like this to begin the season:
- SS Bo Bichette
- 2B Cavan Biggio
- LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
- 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
- 1B Travis Shaw
- RF Randal Grichuk
- DH Rowdy Tellez
- CF Teoscar Hernandez
- C Danny Jansen
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Blue Jays have approximately $84 million on the books for next season after signing Shaw. That is well below their $115 million Opening Day payroll in 2019. Toronto has added Tanner Roark and Shun Yamaguchi to their rotation this winter, but they could still use another starter, .
The Blue Jays went 67-95 overall this past season, their worst record in nearly three decades, though they did win 12 of their final 18 games. They were handful down the stretch, once youngsters like Bichette, Biggio, and Guerrero got their feet wet. Toronto may not make the postseason in 2020, but the team isn't far away from a return to contention.