Before the 2015 season began, the Chicago Cubs made a late charge at free agent starter James Shields, who ultimately chose the Padres over the Cubs. At the time, I noted that the Cubs’ three-year offer to Shields was fairly close, in total value, to the four-year deal Shields got from the Padres, though the latter deal was inarguably worth more money. Still, I liked what the Cubs had done in the offseason, and didn’t feel too bummed about the Cubs missing out by not adding more money and another year to their offer.
Through the first four months of Shields’ deal, the Cubs’ decision looks pretty fantastic.
Despite rumors of the Padres shopping Shields before the non-waiver trade deadline – potentially even to the Cubs, and some had suggested a Shields/Starlin Castro swap – the 33-year-old righty stayed put. His performance and velocity are down, but the main hurdle in dealing Shields seemed to be the very contract that the Padres had dangled to get him to come to San Diego rather than Chicago. And, because of that contract (again, the one the Cubs declined to offer him), trading for Shields made little sense to me unless the Padres were going to eat a whole lot of salary.
Sure enough, that’s where things stand if the Padres wanted to trade Shields to any team. According to Buster Olney, Shields was placed on revocable trade waivers this month and was not claimed by any team. As you know from the August trade primer, that means Shields’ contract was so unpalatable that no team wanted it even for free – although Shields makes very little this year, he’s owed $65 million over the next three seasons. Having cleared waivers, Shields is now freely tradable by the Padres.
None of this is to say that Shields will be traded this month or that the Cubs would have interest even if he were. Having picked up Dan Haren at the deadline last month, and looking ahead to the offseason options, I doubt the Cubs would be interested in adding Shields at this point unless the Padres ate so much salary that it would be insane not to say yes (but, of course, if the Padres were willing to do that, there would suddenly be many suitors for Shields).
It will be interesting to see what the Padres do after making no sell moves before July 31, and then going into a nose dive since.