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Bryan Shaw watch, 2021: What will the Rockies do?

Shaw’s contract specifics make his 2019 usage worth watching

Of all the things the things that have gone right — there are more than a few — and wrong — there are a few more than have gone right — in 2019, it turns out that a clause in Bryan Shaw’s contract has been a point of conversation in Purple Row’s comments. Shaw has $9 million guaranteed for 2020. His 2021 status, however, is undetermined.

As it stands right now the Rockies have a $9 million team option for 2021. And given Shaw’s performance, it’s unlikely to be exercised. However, the option becomes guaranteed if he meets one of a few conditions. The Rockies will be on the hook for Shaw’s 2021 season if he’s healthy at the start of the season, and he:

  • Has 60 pitching appearances in 2019, OR
  • 40 games finished in 2019, OR
  • 110 pitching appearances in 2019-2020 combined.

Shaw has finished 13 games in 2019, so he won’t meet that criteria. (Jake McGee has the exact same clause in his contract, but he’s only made 30 appearances in 2019). But Shaw has appeared in 52 games so far. That means that if Shaw makes 8 more appearances, he’ll either be around occupying a roster spot in 2021, or the Rockies will be paying him to play elsewhere or nowhere. It’s worth noting that these are low thresholds, as Shaw averaged nearly 72 appearances a year from 2012-2018 and led the league in appearances 3 times.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Rockies do with Shaw for the remainder of the season. They could just stop playing him altogether. The benefit, as well as the hope, if they do that will be that the Rockies will need him a lot in 2020 and still want to provide some wiggle room for not having to pay him in 2021. If he doesn’t pitch another game this season — perhaps an IL stint due to “fatigue” — he can appear in 57 games in 2020 without his 2021 option vesting.

If they push him to the brink in 2019, he’d only be able to make 50 appearances in 2020 without his option vesting. Shaw made his 50th appearance in 2019 on July 25.

Another possibility is that the Rockies designate him for assignment, which would make 2021 a non-issue, but they’d still be on the hook for paying him $9 million in 2020 — which isn’t a bad thing at all if it’s the right roster move.

The Bryan Shaw 2021 watch is underway. What do you think the Rockies will do?


Will the Rockies let Bryan Shaw’s 2021 option vest?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    No, they’ll shut him down after 59 appearances
    (154 votes)
  • 39%
    No, they’ll DFA him
    (183 votes)
  • 27%
    Yes, they need him for the future
    (125 votes)
462 votes total Vote Now