Travis Shaw’s second stint with the Milwaukee Brewers is off to an encouraging start.
The Brewers announced Tuesday they have added Shaw to their 40-man roster, making him one of the leading candidates for playing time at third base.
Shaw, who played for Milwaukee from 2017-19 and spent last season with Toronto, signed a minor league deal last month. The contract included terms stating he could request his release if the Brewers didn’t notify him by Monday whether they intended to put him on the 40-man roster.
“It’s pretty much everything I expected, pretty much everything they told me going into the process so nothing changes,” Shaw said Tuesday from the Brewers’ spring training site in Phoenix. “Nothing is surprising. It’s all in a good spot.”
Shaw, who turns 31 on April 16, has a one-year contract paying him $1.5 million while in the majors and $250,000 in the minors. He can earn up to $1.5 million in performance bonuses for plate appearances: $50,000 each for 250, 275 and 300, $75,000 apiece for 325, 350 and 375, $125,000 for 400, $250,000 for 450 and $300,000 each for 475 and 502.
The Brewers made room for Shaw on the 40-man roster by placing utilityman Mark Mathias on the 60-day injured list with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Brewers manager Craig Counsell said that doesn’t necessarily mean Mathias will miss the entire season.
Counsell also said reliever Bobby Wahl will open the season on the injured list after the right-hander left an exhibition game Monday with a strained oblique.
For Shaw, a return to Milwaukee represents a chance to revitalize his career at a place where he had some of his highest and lowest moments.
The Brewers don’t have a clear-cut starting third baseman, giving Shaw a chance to step right in and regain his old job. Other options include Luis Urías and Orlando Arcia, who both are also working out at shortstop. The Brewers also have utilityman Daniel Robertson available to play third.
“Everything’s in pencil over there, I guess is the best way to say it right now,” Counsell said. “And I think those guys are all aware of that. Those guys know it.”
Shaw, a left-handed hitter, batted .273 with 31 homers, 101 RBI and an .862 OPS for the Brewers in 2017. He followed that up by batting .241 with 32 homers, 86 RBI and an .825 OPS in 2018.
But he hit just .157 with seven homers and 16 RBI in 86 games or the Brewers in 2019 and wasn’t offered a contract after the season. Shaw batted .239 with six homers and 17 RBI in 50 games for Toronto last year.
“The hope is that we get a really good version of Travis,” Counsell said. “As he and I have talked about it, he’s in a different place now, and I think it’s important to just acknowledge that.”
“I think that’s what’s going to help him have a good year, is just understanding where he’s at, and understand this is different, going through what he’s been through, getting better in going through that. So all those things should be helpful. He’s going to get an opportunity to be a contributor,” he said.
Shaw said he appreciates the familiarity that comes from returning to Milwaukee and noted that the Brewers’ staff hasn’t changed much since he last played with them.
“I’ve had a ton of success there, so I’m very excited to get back there,” Shaw said. “I mean, look at our division. There’s a ton of right-handed pitchers in our division, so that’s another thing that benefits me, too. Kind of all the stars aligned with this whole process over the last two months, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back to Milwaukee and get everything back on track the way that I feel like it can be.”