It’s a question that’s been looming since the Brewers announced last week that Travis Shaw would be returning during the team’s next homestand, beginning tomorrow against the Miami Marlins — what did it mean for Keston Hiura, who put together an impressive first two weeks as a big leaguer?
Now we know the answer: Hiura is getting sent down for Shaw.
2B Keston Hiura has been optioned to Triple-A San Antonio. pic.twitter.com/hX7RdUJcb4— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) June 3, 2019
It’s a decision that’s sure to draw questions from plenty of fans, considering Shaw still seemed to struggle during his rehab assignment in Triple-A, and Hiura went 18-for-64 in 17 games, hitting .281/.333/.531 with 5 home runs and a double. It’s been the most impressive offensive debut for a Brewers prospect in quite a few years, but he also showed there’s some work to be done in cutting down his whiffs — both offensively and defensively.
Still, given how both players have performed this year, it’s hard to argue that at this point, Hiura’s bat has helped the lineup more than Shaw’s has. So when reporters questioned GM David Stearns on how, exactly, this doesn’t make the offense worse right now, Stearns opted to take the long view — as he usually does:
Stearns cont: "It’s something that we have focused on over the last couple of years, and it has served us well. ... It behooves us to make sure we have as much depth and as much flexibility as possible.”— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) June 3, 2019
Shaw still has options remaining and could have been optioned if the Brewers really wanted him to work on his offensive issues at the minor league level. Reading between the lines, Stearns is basically saying he isn’t ready to DFA Jesus Aguilar, who has struggled just as much as Shaw after being an All-Star last year.
Stearns expressed confidence in both getting back to form, but also made sure to mention the time is coming near for them to show, well, anything:
Stearns on struggles of Aguilar and Shaw: “Jesús and Travis have really struggled this year.They both have track records at major-league level. We’re willing to bet on those track records for the time being but you’ve got to perform. We believe those guys will.”— Tom (@Haudricourt) June 3, 2019
For those of us who may be thinking cynically when it comes to service time manipulation for the team’s top prospect, Stearns said what you might expect.
Was Hiura's MLB service time among the factors in this decision?— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) June 3, 2019
“No,” Stearns said.
Now, of course, if that just happens to be a side effect of this, well, that can’t be helped.
Hiura will be back with the Brewers sometime this season, and unless things start to turn around soon for Shaw and/or Aguilar, it may be sooner than we think. For what it’s worth, Shaw has been more than willing to admit he hasn’t played up to standards so far, something he alluded to in an Instagram post this morning before the move was made official.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference