james shields royalsIf James Shields was going to make his decision by the end of the week, it didn’t come by the end of the business week.

  • Increasingly, it feels like Shields will eventually wind up inking a deal with the Padres. Corey Brock said on MLB Network that he has a “strong feeling” that Shields will be a Padre. Jim Bowden guesses Shields signs with the Padres. Buster Olney says the sense among folks involved in these talks is that Shields will probably wind up with the Padres. It’s a fairly consistent refrain: the Padres are the favorite for Shields right now.
  • Despite the favorite talk, Dennis Lin reports that Shields’ camp and the Padres hadn’t spoken in 24 hours, as of yesterday afternoon. He says numbers have been discussed, but nothing appears imminent. It’s a little strange. A day isn’t that long, but when everything seems hot and heavy – and Spring Training is less than two weeks away – it sticks out. Also interesting is a rumor Lin mentions, that Padres employees had been notified that a Shields signing was coming in preparation for an announcement. A source “strongly denied” that rumor to Lin (though that’s equally consistent with the rumor being bunk, and the rumor being correct but prematurely revealed). (There’s another Lin piece worth reading about the Padres’ financial situation, together with this tweet, just in case you hoped they couldn’t afford Shields. They almost certainly can.)


  • So, how do we square all of these expectations that Shields is going to the Padres with the fact that the sides haven’t spoken in over a day? The best I can come up with is simply that the two sides – Shields and the Padres, I mean – know where the other stands, and one side is (or both sides are) checking in on one final alternative option before closing things down. Maybe that means the Padres wanted one final shot at Cole Hamels. Maybe that means Shields wanted one more shot at getting a fourth year from some other team. Or, maybe it’s neither of those things, and it’s just a case of protracted negotiations at the tail end of a protracted free agency.
  • Given how secretive Shields’ free agency has been, I don’t think we should pretend to suddenly know exactly what’s going on. All we know is that folks who are very connected to the Padres feel like they are the favorites – maybe strong favorites. Maybe from there, the Cubs are a possible fall-back option. And maybe the Cubs are content to sit in that position, rather than aggressively pursuing. Either they get Shields at a huge bargain, which is awesome, or they don’t get him, and they’ll have as much flexibility heading into 2015 (trade season and next offseason) as they were going to have before all this Shields talk began.
  • For what it’s worth, Joe Maddon was on MLBN Radio last night, and he confirmed that Theo Epstein had at some point discussed Shields with Maddon, in terms of the latter having been Shields’ manager in Tampa Bay. Maddon remarked that Shields would be a nice prize or present, and, assuming he’s in the loop, that suggests that the Cubs are still interested, at least on some level. Don’t read too much into any conversations Epstein and Maddon have had, though. One of the very first things the Cubs would do in their due diligence, even if they were only barely interested in Shields, would be to ask Maddon some questions.
  • Jesse Rogers sees the Cubs as a suitor for Shields only if they could get him to sign a one-year deal (but why would he do that, given what’s coming next offseason?), or on a multiyear deal that is sufficiently bargain-y that it doesn’t preclude them from going after another front-end starter next offseason. That latter part is exactly where I land, and it’s been the kind of super bargain I’ve never seen Shields actually settling for. We’ll see.


  • As for the Padres’ other pitching option, by the way, Lin mentions that although the Padres and Phillies have discussed names in a possible Cole Hamels trade, there is no expectation that a deal will happen at this time.
  • A parting thought: though I’m still not saying Shields is coming down to the Cubs versus the Padres, I do think it’s worth pointing out the *significant* difference each team faces with respect to draft pick compensation. To sign Shields, the Cubs stand to lose the 47th overall pick in the 2015 Draft ($1.19 million slot value last year). By contrast, the Padres would lose the 13th overall pick ($2.7 million slot value last year). That’s a really, really huge difference. That Padres pick is one of the most valuable you can possibly lose in free agency.

UPDATE: From Scott Miller …

I always find it difficult to parse things like “talks” doing things like “heating up,” so I usually settle on the gist: the Padres and Shields have likely resumed negotiations, and there’s a chance the deal gets done. It remains the case that, based on the information we have, Shields to the Padres seems like the most likely outcome, and teams like the Cubs are/were interested to the extent they could get a late-in-the-offseason bargain. Word about the Cubs leaked out, but if it’s true that the Cubs are interested only up to three years, then I presume there are several other teams out there as interested as the Cubs.



UPDATE 2: From Joe Frisaro, who is a Marlins beat writer …

Recall, the Marlins were one of the last teams not entirely ruled out on Shields this past week, so Frisaro may have occasion to know these things. My guess is Shields and the Padres are hammering out details at this point.

I wouldn’t be bummed about the Cubs not getting Shields because it was hard to see it happening from thing one, and the Cubs have had a fantastic offseason. I would be a tiny bit bummed to see him going to the Padres, though, as it would make them a fairly legit wild card contender, and that is, realistically, where we’re hoping the Cubs are fighting come August and September.

UPDATE 3: The word impasse …

Even though this comes from Miller, who was the first to indicate that negotiations had resumed, I’m not sure this isn’t just an indication that the negotiations are proceeding as negotiations do. Given the steep cost to sign Shields for the Padres (the 13th overall pick) combined with his apparent affection for pitching at home, you’ve got a recipe for a tough negotiation (but one that ultimately gets done).

UPDATE 4: Hopefully Shields doesn’t do anything crazy tonight, because I’m likely to be out of pocket for a few hours. Obviously if something big breaks, I’ll try to have something as quickly as possible, but, until then, I’ll leave you with a few updates that suggest … well, pretty much more of the same:

To me, that kind of sounds like the Padres have dug in their heels, daring Shields to actually go elsewhere; meanwhile, the Shields camp is telling the Padres that there are other interested teams (perhaps to get the Padres up just a little bit more). I’d still expect that to be where Shields winds up at this point, but it’s not done yet.




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