The Red Sox are moving on from the struggling Travis Shaw
The Red Sox brought back the fan-favorite first baseman on a minor league deal in spring training but it quickly became clear that the 32-year-old is a shell of the player who flashed potential early in his career in Boston. Shaw is now unrecognizable from the blossoming 30+ home run slugger who broke out with the Milwaukee Brewers following the ill-fated Tyler Thornburg trade. Bringing Shaw back to the organization felt like rectifying a past mistake but the decision backfired.
Boston signed Shaw to bolster their bench down the stretch last season. His .238 batting average left much to be desired but he flashed some power with a .524 slugging percentage and three home runs in 42 at-bats.
The Red Sox could use that type of left-handed power off their bench but Shaw couldn’t even give them that modest production this season. He couldn’t give them anything. Shaw was 0-for-19 with seven strikeouts and zero walks in his seven appearances this season. He didn’t score a run or drive one in. He literally contributed nothing at the plate.
OPS+ measures a hitter’s on-base and slugging percentages and adjusts for league and park effects, with league average being 100. Shaw’s was -100. Negative! It doesn’t get any worse than that.
Cotillo’s report indicates that the Red Sox are expected to call up outfielder Franchy Cordero to take Shaw’s spot on the roster. Cordero had an uninspiring stint in Boston last season, hitting .189 with a .497 OPS in 127 at-bats. He has the tools that make him an enticing prospect though, including his jaw-dropping raw power. Cordero only hit one homer last season but the 474-foot blast was the 10th longest ball hit in the majors last year.
Cordero is tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A Worcester this year, hitting .296 with a .913 OPS and three home runs.
While he’s spent most of his time as an outfielder and his left-handed bat isn’t an ideal platoon partner for Jackie Bradley Jr., Cordero has some experience at first base. He’s been playing the position in Worcester this week, perhaps foreshadowing his promotion. Cordero can split time at first, with the potential to steal the lionshare of the playing time if he outperforms the struggling Bobby Dalbec.
There are concerns that Cordero is the typical AAAA player, the guy who thrives in Triple-A but can never quite stick in the majors. His numbers might get a boost from hitting in Polar Park, which is still a new venue but has seemed to be quite hitter-friendly since opening in Worcester last year.
We can’t expect Cordero to step in and contribute the same type of production he’s shown in the minors but it’s impossible for him to be any worse than Shaw. The Red Sox desperately needed an upgrade to their thin bench.
This offense should still be formidable at full strength but we saw in Thursday’s finale in Toronto how pitiful the lineup can be when you remove a couple of regulars. The Red Sox used Bradley Jr., the worst hitter in baseball last year, as their No. 5 hitter in a lineup that also gave Shaw one last chance to find his first hit of the season. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that this undermanned lineup managed only four hits while getting shut out.
Cordero might not be a massive upgrade but any upgrade is welcome at this point. At least the potential is there to bring some power to an offense that is tied for 25th in the majors with only 11 home runs.
Fans are clamoring for prized prospect Triston Casas but the Red Sox aren’t going to rush a young player with only 29 games at the Triple-A level under his belt. We’ll see Casas at some point this year.
In the meantime, give Cordero another shot. If the Franch Toast gets burned again, the Red Sox won’t hesitate to move on until they find someone who can contribute.