Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Bryan Shaw Signs Third Minor-League Deal With The White Sox

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The White Sox have re-signed right-hander Bryan Shaw to a minor-league contract. The team announced Saturday that the deal includes a non-roster invite to big league camp. It marks Shaw’s third minor league deal with the South Siders in less than a year. The 36-year-old appeared in 38 for the White Sox last season. In 45.2 innings of work, he posted a 4.14 ERA with a 1.226 WHIP.  

The White Sox initially added Shaw to a minor-league deal last February. He was released in March after he failed to make the Opening Day roster, but then later resigned with the White Sox as a free agent in May. The team then opted to DFA Shaw in November once the season ended.

Shaw did show some slight improvements last season with the White Sox. His strikeout rate, walk rate, and expected ERA all improved from 2022. He also finished the season strong lowering his ERA from 6.18 to 4.14 in the final month of the season. In Shaw’s last 18 appearances, he allowed just two earned runs and limited opponents to just eight hits during that stretch. 

Shaw is a 13-year MLB veteran who spent seven of those seasons in Cleveland. The former second-round pick out of Califonia State has logged heavy innings this past decade, leading all American League pitchers in appearances on four separate occasions. Shaw has pitched in 60-plus games in 10 of his 13 years in the show and has appeared in 70-plus games seven times.

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The long-time Guardians reliever quickly emerged as Terry Francona’s favorite arm out of the bullpen. After spending five years in Cleveland, from 2013-2017, he made a stop in Colorado for a pair of seasons, then a brief stint in Seattle during the shortened 2020 campaign.

Cleveland brought back 2021, and Francona proceeded to use him every chance he could, calling on the right-hander in a league-high 81 games. Shaw owns a career 3.93 ERA in 760.1 innings, with 677 strikeouts, a 1.328 WHIP, and a 5.2 WAR. Those are respectable numbers, but it is fair to wonder if the volume of innings is beginning to take its toll.

His 40.2% ground ball rate, last season, was the lowest of his career. He still managed to avoid hard contact but was living dangerously in a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field. Before coming to Chicago his strikeout rate was in the MLB’s 28th percentile, according to Baseball Savant. Meanwhile, his was in the 19th percentile, chase rate in the fifth, and walk rate in the 22nd. Handing out a free pass a 10 percent of batters all batters faced isn’t a recipe for success for a relief pitcher who can’t strike anybody out.

Shaw’s cutter averaged 92 mph and wasn’t fooling anybody. Neither was his sinker, slider, or curveball. Opponents squared him up for the fourth-highest average exit velocity, tenth-highest hard hit percentage, 21st-highest expected slugging percentage, and 23rd-highest expected slugging percentage. His curveball spin ranked in the 18th percentile.

The White Sox have not been shy about adding aging veterans this offseason. Shaw will have an opportunity to carve out a large role in a White Sox bullpen that has been gutted since last year’s trade deadline. If Shaw has anything left in the tank, don’t be surprised to see him deployed in a variety of situations out of the White Sox bullpen. Given the group of young arms competing for a roster spot, the White Sox would be wise to stock a bullpen full of innings eaters, like Shaw, as they try to build up the workload for guys like Garrett Crochet and Jake Eder.

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