With a big contract decision in play this season for Bryan Shaw, the Colorado Rockies simply can’t afford for the relief pitcher to have another mediocre season in Denver.
The downfall of the Colorado Rockies’ 2019 season can be blamed on pitching or lack thereof. To be more precise, a large part of that blame can be placed on the awful performances by those relievers who the Rockies were paying an exorbitant amount of money. One of those relievers is Bryan Shaw.
By now, Rockies fans know the story. Before the 2018 season, the Colorado Rockies spent $104 million on Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw with the hope that they would form a “super bullpen.” Besides Davis’ solid 2018 season, where he set a club record of 43 saves in a season, these three signings have been a complete bust.
This spring, the Rockies hope this will all change as they will give every opportunity for Davis to have a bounce-back season and regain his closer role. The same goes for McGee as they know that left-handed relievers with solid track records don’t exactly grow on trees. But what about Shaw?
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After posting a 3-2 record with a 5.38 ERA over 70 appearances in 2019, he is already off to a slow start this camp. In his first two spring showings, he has already given up three runs in two innings of work. His next action is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs.
Of course, it is a small sample size and spring stats should be taken with a grain of salt. However, if Shaw continues to struggle, how long will the Rockies stick with him before they decide to pull the plug?
Shaw’s contract could play a huge factor in this decision. In his three-year, $27 million contract, he has a vested option for 2021 worth another $9 million if he appears in 110 games between 2019 and 2020. After appearing in 70 games in 2019, that means he is only 40 appearances away from the Rockies getting stuck with him for another season.
Simply put, Shaw must return to his Cleveland Indians form, where he had a 3.11 ERA while averaging over 75 appearances per season from 2013-2017, to make that vested money well spent. On the other hand, if he continues to get smacked around like he has in Denver (.313 average against in 2018 followed by a .251 average against last season), the Rockies cannot afford to pay him another year.
The Rockies will likely stick with a struggling Shaw up through Opening Day. However, if those struggles spill over into the regular season, don’t be surprised if the Rockies finally make the smart financial decision and part ways.