When the Red Sox traded corner infielder Travis Shaw to the Brewers in exchange for setup man Tyler Thornburg this past December, not many people thought that the move was note-worthy.
Shaw won the the starting third base job for the Sox in 2016 over the soon to be shelved Pablo Sandoval, and he started the season strong. However, he faded away as the season wore on and finished the year batting .242 with 71 RBI. While the latter total certainly isn’t bad, it was not what the team was expecting from the Mayor of Ding Dong and his lack of seasoning may have been the reason Boston sent him on his way rather than Sandoval (Shaw is 27 but this is just his second full season in the Majors).
Ironically, however, thus far into the 2017 season the move has worked out far better for Milwaukee than Boston. Alongside breakout sensation Eric Thames, Shaw has helped stabilize the Brewers’ shaky infield and has driven in 21 runs. Thornburg, meanwhile, has not played a game for the Red Sox yet because of a shoulder injury and there is still no timetable for his return.
Since arriving in Milwaukee, the Mayor has reopened his office. A couple of his six homers so far have been monsters, including a clutch three-run shot last night in the 10th to give the Brew Crew a win over hated rival St. Louis.
For a Brewers team fighting to be relevant once again, Shaw is proving to be a great fit. His six home runs have been a solid supplement to Thames and the duo has helped take the power-hitting pressure off of franchise player Ryan Braun. As a result, Milwaukee is 14-13 as of 5/2 and tied for the NL Central lead with defending World Series champion Chicago (it’s been a while since anyone was able to say that).
The Brewers still have a lot holes to fill and I’m not sure if they’re destined for October this year, but the team is having a solid start to 2017, and Shaw has been a big piece of it. A trade that was thought to be a throw-away has yielded great results for Milwaukee.
New York Yankees Closing In On Deal For A’s Sonny Gray
The long courtship between the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics regarding A’s pitcher Sonny Gray may finally be coming to some sort of conclusion.
While other teams such as the Atlanta Braves have jumped into the mix to acquire the front-line starter, it appears that the Yankees offer the A’s the best trade return.
According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Braves can offer great pitching prospects to Oakland but the Yankees are more equipped to match the A’s positional needs such as centerfield.
Heyman also noted that the Milwaukee Brewers could jump back in the mix and that Gray “has no qualms about going to yanks (or anywhere else). but brewers would be special.”
Heyman added that the Chicago Cubs are another team interested in Gray but Oaklan’s asking price is considered “too steep” for their liking.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that an “involved person says Yankees have ‘pieces to make it work’.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that “Yankees and Athletics are ‘close enough to get over the hump’ today on a Gray deal, says source. Still gonna take some compromise.”
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti says that Oakland has come off it’s demands for a “Frazier/Torress package” and has asked for “Florial/Mateo package + more” stating “Yankees will not make that deal either.”
Gray, 27, is 6-5 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this season.
It looks like this deal will come down to the wire.
Yankees And Athletics Reportedly Talking Trade
The New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics have had recent trade discussions, according to a report from Jon Morosi of MLB.com.
Oakland is a likely mass-seller approaching the trade deadline and the Yankees have been tied to both right-hander Sonny Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso.
On Monday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that a top-level Athletics scout recently watched the Yankees’ Class A Charleston affiliate which is a strong indication that the two teams are negotiating of at least preparing to negotiate a deal.
With the loss of Michael Pineda and the struggles of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankee starting rotation is in desperate need of a front-line starter.
Gray ,who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, is an appealing option likely to be in high demand. The 27-year old is 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA this season.
ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, and Yankees as teams interested in Gray.
The Yankees have a dire need a first base after the season-ending injury to Greg Bird, the Chris Carter “dud” and the overall lack of production from the first base position which posted a. .671 OPS this season ranking second worst in the the league entering Monday.
The Yanks have had 8 different players play the position this season.
The A’s Alonso, 30, is having a career year in Oakland posting a .924 OPS and smacking 21 home runs
The Yankees will be pressed to make a deal as their struggles leading up to the All-Star break have trickled over to July. New York has continued their sub .500 play and they’re run scoring has essentially flatlined in recent weeks.
The Unlikely Comeback Of Eric Thames
This time last year, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames was not even with an MLB team. He was playing in the Korea Baseball Organization League. Fast forward to 2017, and Thames leads the majors in home runs.
Thames, 30, has gotten off to a fantastic start this season. In 21 games, he’s batting .370 with 11 homers and 19 RBIs. He also has a .904 slugging percentage, the highest in baseball right now. A few months ago, most baseball fans probably did not even realize that Thames had made the decision to sign with the Brewers and make an MLB comeback. He has very quickly burst back onto the scene.
This past offseason, Thames signed a three-year $16 million contract with the Brewers. He had spent the last three years playing for the NC Dinos in the KBO. Thames had a very successful tenure in Korea. In 2015, he hit .381 with 47 homers and 140 RBIs. He also stole 40 bases. This stellar season earned him the KBO League MVP Award. Thames belted 40 home runs for the Dinos in 2016, while also collecting 121 RBIs.
Before going to Korea, Thames had stints with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. He never had a big season with either team. After being called up by the Blue Jays in May of 2011, Thames batted .262 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs. At the trade deadline of the 2012 season, he was dealt to the Mariners. The Mariners optioned him to Triple-A prior to the 2013 season. He ended up playing for three organizations that year, but never made it out of Triple-A.
At that point, it appeared as though Thames’ MLB career was effectively over. He knew that he was not going to make that much money playing in Triple-A. Realizing that he had very limited opportunities in the United States, Thames decided to sign with the Dinos. When an MLB player goes to play overseas, it is usually because he no longer has what it takes to play at the Major League level.
Even after having tremendous success in Korea, there was no guarantee that Thames was going to do well for the Brewers. So far however, he has picked up right where he left off in the KBO. Thames has already had two multi-home run games this season. He suffered a minor setback on Wednesday afternoon when he left the Brewers game against the Cincinnati Reds due to tightness in his left hamstring. Right now, it is unclear whether or not he will miss any significant time. Fortunately, the injury does not appear to be that serious.
It will be interesting to see if Thames can continue his unexpected hot streak. He is undoubtably one of the best stories in baseball so far in 2017.
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