The Brewers demoted one their best young players to Triple-A on Monday despite his immediate impact on their roster over the past couple of weeks.
Second baseman Keston Hiura was optioned to San Antonio to make room for Travis Shaw, who returned from his stint on the IL. Hiura, the top prospect in Milwaukee’s system, hit .281 with five home runs and a stolen base in 17 big league games. Shaw, meanwhile, was batting .163 with four home runs in 40 appearances before suffering a wrist injury. Shaw still has two minor league options, and he would not have needed to go through waivers in order to be sent down to Triple-A.
There are several potential reasons the Brewers returned Hiura to the minor leagues after such a promising start to his career. The move will likely preserve another year of team control over Hiura without entering arbitration, meaning the Brewers will now almost certainly save money on the infielder in the long run. President of baseball operations David Stearns, however, denied that had an impact on his decision, instead telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Shaw simply deserved an MLB spot more given his success in previous years.
In 2018, Shaw surpassed 30 home runs for the second straight campaign, seeming to establish himself as a legitimate power threat before this season’s tumble.
“We believe Travis has earned the right to play at the major-league level,” Stearns told the Journal-Sentinel. “He’s healthy. He has gone and done his rehab assignment. We believe it’s time for him to come back.”
Other send-down possibilities in Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames did not have minor league options, making them unlikely choices to part with in favor of Shaw. The team also elected to keep its eight-man bullpen intact.
Though the Brewers were adamant they did not consider service time a factor in demoting Hiura, a league-wide trend of organizations prioritizing future savings over short-term success led to an array of opinions, many of which were negative.
Keston Hiura hit .281/.333/.531 with 5 homers in his first 69 MLB plate appearances. His 124 wRC+ is tied for 4th-best on the team.
And now he’ll head back to Triple-A and bide his time. This figures to ensure he isn’t a Super 2 player eventually.
– Brew Crew Ball (@BrewCrewBall) June 3, 2019
So a team in first place in their division is sending down a top prospect who performed really well at the major league level. Healthy climate we’ve got.
– Jared Wyllys (@jwyllys) June 3, 2019
The Brewers value organizational depth more than anything so I’m not stunned here. Debate whether it’s the right or wrong move (I vote wrong) but it’s not surprising. However I do feel this is uniquely a Brewers move. I’m not sure any other team sends a guy like Hiura back down https://t.co/QyFY5XV1Mz
– Bart Winkler (@WinksThinks) June 3, 2019
Keston Hiura’s demotion after hitting .281/.333/.531 is nothing more than the Brewers keeping their options open. He’ll be back later in the season and on the postseason roster.
Travis Shaw isn’t a huge asset, but there’s no reason to ditch him now.
– Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner) June 3, 2019
Sticking with Hiura means giving up on Aguilar, who hit 35 homers last year, or Shaw, who was a 4-WAR player each of the last two years. Hard to blame the Brewers for not wanting to do that.
– Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) June 3, 2019