Boston Red Sox News: Travis Shaw changes first base plan

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 01: Travis Shaw #21 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the Minnesota Twins on April 1, 2020 at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 01: Travis Shaw #21 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the Minnesota Twins on April 1, 2020 at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Sox are bringing back fan-favorite Travis Shaw

The Mayor of Ding Dong City is back. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Boston Red Sox have claimed infielder Travis Shaw off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. Shaw is expected to join the club in New York on Tuesday for the start of a series with the Yankees.

The 31-year-old has struggled this season, batting .191 with a .616 OPS in 56 games for the Brewers.

He hasn’t played since June 9 due to a dislocated shoulder that landed him on the 60-day injured list. Shaw started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville late last month but the Brewers placed him on outright waivers rather than trying to find room on their roster to reinstate him.

Boston has added Shaw on their 40-man roster, which is now full. Shaw takes the place of reliever Josh Taylor who was placed on the COVID IL.

Shaw began his major league career with the Red Sox in 2015 and quickly established himself as a fan favorite. He hit .251 with a .754 OPS and 29 home runs in 210 games with the Red Sox split over parts of two seasons.

The Red Sox shipped Shaw to Milwaukee in the ill-fated Tyler Thornburg trade. The right-handed reliever was a disaster in Boston while Shaw broke out with consecutive 30+ homer seasons for the Brewers.

Shaw’s production fell off a cliff over the last few years, spent mostly in Milwaukee with a brief stint with the Toronto Blue Jays. He has hit .191/.287/.331 with a 65 OPS+ over the last three years.

A return to the franchise where his big league career began will hopefully revitalize the slumping infielder. He provides the Red Sox with another left-handed bat who can handle first base, making him a potential platoon partner for Bobby Dalbec. The rookie has finally come alive at the plate lately but Dalbec has still struggled against right-handed pitching. The left-handed Shaw has historically performed better with the platoon advantage.

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The addition of another first baseman presumably ends the experiment of using Kyle Schwarber at the position before it begins. Schwarber was planning to see time at first base during his rehab assignment in Worcester but the game was rained out and the Red Sox ended up activating him from the injured list without any minor league appearances.  Both of his appearances with the Red Sox have been as the designated hitter.

If Schwarber isn’t going to play first base then it’s going to be a bit more complicated for the Red Sox to put their best players in the lineup and on the field. Schwarber and J.D. Martinez could take turns playing left field and filling the DH spot but that means one of their other outfielders needs to sit. Alex Verdugo, Jarren Duran and Hunter Renfroe will rotate playing time in order to accommodate squeezing both star sluggers in the lineup but the outfield defense suffers a significant dropoff from those alignments.

Shaw can provide value to the Red Sox as a left-handed bat with power who provides depth at a position of need. His presence saves Schwarber from being forced into learning a new position on the fly. Shaw’s production at the plate has been underwhelming in recent years but he’s capable of producing more than what the Red Sox have received from Franchy Cordero or Danny Santana.

He’s not the player he once was and bringing him back now hardly rectifies the trade that infuriated fans when the Red Sox let him go but Shaw’s return should give the team a boost on the field and in the clubhouse.

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