There was a flurry of maneuvers over the past few days, with a few well-known names rejoining their respective Major League franchises. Could they make an impact this time around or should they be ignored? Let’s take a look:
Travis Shaw – Milwaukee Brewers
It’s hard to envision him supplanting Mike Moustakas or Keston Hiura, at least for now, which means Shaw could either find a role at first base (where the team is currently utilizing Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar), be utilized in a super utility role (getting starts at 1B, 2B and 3B) or is simply being summoned as a bench player. Obviously the Trade Deadline could alter things, but regardless it seems unlikely that he’s going to get regular at bats.
As it is, even while at Triple-A the left-handed swinger showed a significant split in his SLG:
- vs. RHP – .700
- vs. LHP – .387
That’s similar to last season, when he was thriving, when he had a .296 SLG against southpaws. It would seem that, at best, Shaw is going to be a part-time role player and nothing more. Could he hold value if he’s starting regularly at first base? Absolutely, but it’s hardly a guarantee.
Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs
There was a lot of preseason hype, but Happ opened the year at Triple-A and got off to a horrific start. He finally woke up in July, hitting .324 with 5 HR and 12 RBI over 74 AB, and even though he’s hitting .242 overall he owns a solid .364 OBP as he’s drawn 65 walks (a 15.2% walk rate). Of course he’s struggled to make contact regularly, with a 15.7% SwStr% overall. He’s cut it down in July (19 K), but is that enough?
There is an opportunity for regular AB at second base (though initially Happ has been deployed in the outfield), where the team is currently using a mix of Robel Garcia, Daniel Descalso and David Bote. Garcia made a quick impact, but he does have 8 K in his past 24 AB (he’s hitting .250), so there isn’t an immovable obstacle.
For those in OBP formats Happ could offer an intriguing option, especially for a player who has shown power and some speed before (he had 16 HR/9 SB over his time at Triple-A). If he could ever find a way to keep the strikeouts in check there would be extreme value, but even as is he’s worth grabbing to see if he can carve out a full-time role.
Yasmany Tomas – Arizona Diamondbacks
He returns to the Majors for the first time since 2017 after raking at Triple-A this year, hitting .305 with 29 HR and 80 RBI over 390 AB. Obviously a 17.0% SwStr% is going to raise a significant red flag and you have to wonder if the team will trust him with regular AB in the outfield (with Christian Walker & Jake Lamb at first base, the outfield would appear to be his best opportunity).
Outside of Ketel Marte (and perhaps the recently returning David Peralta) you could argue that there’s an obvious need in the corner outfield spots, especially with Tim Locastro, Jarrod Dyson and Adam Jones getting opportunities. Tomas could grab it, at least against left-handed pitchers.
If you need some thump there are worse gambles, especially in five-outfielder formats, though don’t expect him to be a true difference maker.
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs