When the final pitch of the 2017 Major League Baseball season was over, one thing was clear for the New York Mets. They needed to fix their pitching staff in a major way.
Starters coming off injuries, like Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, combined with new manager Mickey Callaway, should help that area a great deal.
The bullpen was still a major question this off season, and Mets fans quickly locked onto a prime free agent target: Bryan Shaw. Shaw pitched the last five seasons for the Cleveland Indians, the team Callaway was the pitching coach for. The match seemed ideal.
Shaw has been great out of the pen for the Indians the last few seasons. He’s led the league in appearances three times (2014, 2016, 2017). Shaw keeps runners off base (8.3 H/9; 2.6 BB/9 innings) and strikes out plenty of batters (8.6 K/9; 9.3 in 2016), all contributing to a decent-for-a-reliever WAR of 0.6. Shaw’s strength is that he comes ready to pitch every day.
It made sense for the Mets to sign him. And it made prefect sense for Mew York Mets fans to fantasize of his arrival in Queens. Bryan Shaw, however, received a sizable offer from the Colorado Rockies (3 years at roughly $27 million, with an option for a fourth year). The Mets turned their attention to another quality reliever: Anthony Swarzak.
Swarzak signed with the Mets for 2 years, for $14 million total. In 2017, he split time between the White Sox and the Brewers, coming out of the pen for 70 games. In 77 innings he had 91 strike out for a 10.6 K/9 rate. His low hit rate (6.8 per 9 innings), help Swarzak post an impressive 2.7 War.
With the bullpen set, the Mets can focus on other area of needs. One major need is to add another infielder. A prime candidate could be another Shaw. An even better Shaw. That Shaw is Travis Shaw.
Travis, currently on the Milwaukee Brewers, was drafted twice by the Boston Red Sox. If the Red Sox draft you twice, they must think you can play. He was traded after his first full season to Milwaukee, and has continued to put up numbers.
In 144 games in 2017, he had 34 doubles and 31 home runs. His slash line of .273/.349/.513 is equally impressive. Especially true considering he is only in his second full season in the majors, and switch leagues. He is a real power threat and continues to improve.
He is a solid defender, which, combined with those power numbers, helped him post a WAR of 4.0 in 2017. That is significantly higher then other third base candidates the Mets (and Mets fans) are considering, like Mike Moustakas (1.8) and Todd Frazier (3.4). Shaw is also under team control for another 4 seasons, and will be be a free agent until 2022.
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So how can the Mets get him? There are current rumors circulating, that as the off season goes on, slowly goes on, as the price for top level talent continues to drop, that the Milwaukee Brewers will become players. Significant players. They are rumored to be in talks with Jake Arietta and Mike Moustakas.
If the Brewers added Moustakas, that would cover the production Shaw gives them. The Brewers could in turn look to move Shaw. They could trade Shaw for areas where they have a need (Shaw for Ramos?), or they could move him to acquire some younger players.
This off season has shown that teams value players under team control. The Brewers could trade Shaw, and his four years of control, for two or three prospects, without giving up any production. They would trade away four years of control, and get back 10 to 15 years of control of various players.
At 28 years old, Travis Shaw is entering the prime of his career. He would add another 30 home run bat to the middle of the New York Mets line up. The Mets missed out on one Shaw already this off season. If the right pieces fall in place, they should not hesitant on adding the better Shaw.