Toronto Blue Jays Non-Tender Travis Shaw and A.J. Cole

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The Toronto Blue Jays announced on Wednesday, December 2 that they weren’t going to tender contracts to Travis Shaw or A.J. Cole, both of whom are arbitration eligible.

While the decision to non-tender Shaw was a surprise, I was thinking that Cole would get a contract. The Blue Jays did tender contracts to Teoscar Hernandez and Ross Stripling.

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Shaw, a corner-infielder/DH was coming off an absolutely terrible season in Milwaukee in 2019 when he hit .157/.281/.270 in 86 games, hitting just five doubles and seven home runs while earning $4.675 million. He wasn’t tendered a contract by the Brewers after the season and the Blue Jays snapped him up for a potential bargain on a one-year deal at $4 million for 2020.

Shaw did bounce back in 2020, hitting .239/.306/.411 with 10 doubles and six home runs but he did strike out 50 times in 180 plate appearances. While he was a better defensive third baseman than Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the bang for the buck that he provides is underwhelming as he was worth 0.0 WAR (according to Baseball Reference, 0.2 WAR according to Fangraphs) in his 50 games. MLB Trade Rumors estimated that he would get between $4.2 million and $5.4 million in arbitration for 2021.


A.J. Cole was one of the Blue Jays’ better relievers in 2020, earning 1.0 WAR (Baseball Reference, 0.3 WAR according to Fangraphs), throwing in 24 games with a 3.09 ERA but a 4.31 FIP while having a 21.1% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate. Cole wasn’t going to be expensive as he was just arbitration eligible for the first time in his Age-29 season in 2021. MLB Trade Rumors estimated that he would get between $800,000 and $1.1 million for 2021.

I was a little surprised to see Cole non-tendered because of his solid results in 2020 as well as his affordability. While his strikeout numbers were fairly low for a high-leverage reliever and his velocity was fairly average, he scored well in a lot of metrics like average exit velocity (79th percentile), hard-hit % (95th percentile) and Barrel % (95th percentile). That said, his K rate was in the 35th percentile, his whiff rate was in the 53rd percentile while his fastball velocity was in the 41st percentile and spin rate was in the 52nd percentile also putting his curveball spin rate in the 14th percentile. Those extended numbers looking at his pure stuff put him in the bottom half of the league and you might think the Blue Jays thought those attributes would be exposed with more outings in 2021.


By non-tendering Shaw and Cole, the Blue Jays create two roster spots on the 40-man roster in case the have activity in the coming weeks at the winter meetings which start on December 7.

What do you think about the Jays cutting Shaw and Cole?


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