Discussion of top remaining free agent James Shields ticked up considerably in the last few days, which isn’t a surprise, given the lateness of the offseason hour. But that probably wasn’t the only thing driving the renewed interest – it sounds like things might finally be coming to a conclusion.
Jon Morosi reports that Shields has multiple offers in hand, and is expected to sign before the end of this week. Although he stops short of saying they are the only teams involved at this point, Morosi does mention that he’s heard the Yankees and Padres have been in recent contact with Shields’ camp. The Padres aren’t totally surprising, given that they’ve been so active this offseason in a way clearly designed to ramp up competitiveness for 2015 (and Shields, who hails from southern California). The Yankees would be surprising if you’d believed them this offseason. For example:
Like with Scherzer, I continue to hear #Yankees are not in play for significant fr-agt SP such as Shields
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 4, 2015
yankees are not on shields, as @Joelsherman1 said. of big free agents, they preferred scherzer, & they didnt try for him.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 4, 2015
We’ll see, given that Morosi is connecting the Yankees to Shields, and given the obvious problems with the Yankees’ rotation we’ve discussed in recent days. The primary holdup for the Yankees, you’d think, would be the loss of a first round draft pick, which isn’t a small consideration. But, at the same time, without Shields, their rotation looks like an absolute disaster in the making.
So maybe the Padres are the lead suitor then? Well, some other considerations on the Padres:
Padres still working hard to get a frontline SP. Worth noting: Ruben Amaro covets Andrew Cashner, and SD not on Cole Hamels' no-trade list.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 4, 2015
Are the Padres trying to use this week’s Shields decision as leverage to get one of Hamels or Shields, and at a better price? Are they truly interested in both, or is there a little gamesmanship at play?
So, if it doesn’t wind up being the Yankees or Padres, who else is in? Well, Bob Nightengale suggests there’s at least one more team in the mix:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 3, 2015
Sure don’t care for that “fall to the Cardinals” language, which would indicate the Cardinals are getting a deal. But obviously that’s just speculative at this point.
The Cardinals undoubtedly could use Shields, given some questions – especially health questions – in their own rotation, and adding him would be a blow to the Cubs’ NL Central hopes in 2015. Thereafter, maybe it winds up being a good thing for the Cubs, what with the money Shields would take up (and his age aligns with the older half of the Cardinals’ core, not the younger half) and the first round pick he’d cost them.
I guess you could make an argument that the best outcome for the Cubs here is Shields to the Cardinals on a surprisingly huge deal, but, really, how likely is that? I don’t see the Cardinals doing it, and, instead, if the Cardinals get Shields, it’s likely to be on one of those deals that looks like an instant winner for the team, given how Shields’ market has taken so long to develop. So, yeah, I’m not rooting for the Cardinals to get him.
Depending on the price tag, there remain several other teams out there that make plenty of sense for Shields, including the Giants, Marlins, Angels, and Tigers, among others. This could be a fun week if you were missing RUMORZ.
As for the Cubs, there are still no indications that they’re involved at this point, even in trying to get a bargain. Although Shields’ market is down, it was never likely to fall enough to be in the range the Cubs could/would consider, given their budget and future rotation plans (read: so many other quality arms to go after in the coming 12 months).