Every move the Cleveland Indians make this offseason is notable because there have not been many.
That is why Indians Twitter was abuzz Wednesday night with the news that Bryan Shaw would be coming home.
The right-handed reliever spent 2013-2017 in the Indians bullpen and was always Terry Francona’s go-to guy every single season in town.
While some fans had strong reactions, the team is getting him back for very little cost.
Sources: The Indians are bringing back Bryan Shaw on a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.
Shaw posted a 3.11 ERA with Cleveland from 2013-17 and led MLB in appearances during that span. He had a rough time with the Rockies after that.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) February 3, 2021
A Prove-It Deal for Shaw
Shaw departed for the Colorado Rockies following the 2017 season and landed a nice three-year, $27 million deal.
That stint went poorly, even when taking the Denver air into consideration.
Shaw saw his ERA rise well above 5.00 in both seasons and he was let go before the start of last season.
Things didn’t go better in 2020 as he made six appearances for the Seattle Mariners and gave up 12 runs in six innings.
Now he is back with the team that allowed him to make a name for himself.
Coming back on a minor-league deal essentially makes this about as low-risk a deal for the Indians as possible.
The 33-year-old Shaw now has to prove his arm can hold up after his recent decline.
Shaw’s Past in Cleveland
Shaw appeared in 70-80 games in each of his five seasons with the Indians.
Being on the mound so much meant he was going to get his fair share of blown outings and some fans only remember those.
However, he was only charged with 22 losses in 378 appearances.
Those are not dominant numbers, but are still not worth claiming he is the worst reliever of all time.
He debuted as part of the strong 2013 bullpen that got the Indians back into the postseason.
He departed with 15 career playoff outings in Cleveland.
Shaw was always overshadowed thanks to the dominant duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
But while they were famous for high-leverage situations, Shaw was available at any time all the time.
Shaw’s 2021 Outlook
Signing a reliever on such a steep downward trajectory is not a reason for excitement.
Yet fans must remember the amount of Spring Training invites handed out every year and not overreact to one or the others.
I will never understand the blind hate Cleveland fans have for Bryan Shaw. The guy was a consistent stud reliever for multiple seasons and pitched until his arm fell off.
— Matt Lyons (@mattrly) February 4, 2021
Shaw is returning to the place where he had his most success and shows up competing for a spot in a bullpen filled with mostly young, unproven talent.
He also likely has Francona on his side.
The lasting memory for plenty of fans is Shaw taking the loss in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
And that is fair.
But he still did so much more and the Indians are looking to see if he has anything left to help the team in 2021.
If he doesn’t look close to the same, he can be let go with little to no cost.
The Indians are openly cutting costs and have always sought out veteran talent via these low-cost Spring Training invites.
Can Shaw actually help the team in 2021?
If so, that would be a pleasant surprise.