Tag: James Shields

James Shields Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding White Sox SP

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher James Shields could reportedly be moved for the second time this season before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.  

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Shields Back on Trade Block as Deadline Looms

Wednesday, July 27

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Wednesday the White Sox, who acquired Shields from the San Diego Padres in early June, have made him available following a recent hot streak.

Shields struggled to meet expectations in San Diego after signing a monster four-year, $75 million contract ahead of the 2015 campaign. He ended up posting a 4.00 ERA and 1.36 WHIP across 44 starts with the organization.

The White Sox acquired him in an effort to bolster the rotation following the team’s strong start to the season. The early returns were disastrous, however, as he allowed at least six earned runs in each of his first three starts with the South Siders.

The 34-year-old right-hander has been better since that point, though. He’s gone seven straight outings without giving up more than three runs. And it’s probably no mistake that rumors of his availability come the day after he pitched 7.2 scoreless innings with five strikeouts.

After Tuesday’s strong effort against the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs, the player who’s been given the moniker “Big Game James” talked about his love of the big moments, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.

“I always love those kinds of atmospheres,” Shields said. “It gets me kind of fired up. It was a good atmosphere. I haven’t known the kind of rivalry between the Cubs and White Sox, but I do now, and it’s kind of special.”

Meanwhile, manager Robin Ventura talked about how much better Shields has performed as of late compared to his early days with the White Sox.

“Confidence-wise, he’s much different right now,” Ventura said, per Kane. “You could feel it even toward the end of the game. He was outstanding the whole night. When he needed the big pitch, he got it.”

His contract is likely to remain an obstacle in trade talks despite the on-field improvement. Scott Merkin of MLB.com reported Chicago agreed to pick up $27 million of the starter’s remaining contract, which Spotrac notes runs through 2018 with a club option for 2019, in the deal with San Diego.

The White Sox would probably need to retain some of that salary to make a trade happen. But they have faded to .500 after starting 23-10, so trying to move Shields after he’s rebuilt at least some trade value is probably the right move for the long run.


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James Shields Trade Will Not Solve White Sox’s Problems

With a 12-18 record since the calendar turned to May, the Chicago White Sox are in need of answers.

What they’ve found instead is James Shields.

A trade sending the veteran right-hander from the San Diego Padres to the south side of Chicago that had been circling the rumor mill has come to fruition. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was first to report Saturday on an agreement that is now a done deal:

“We’re pleased to add a starter of James Shields’ caliber to our starting rotation,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said, per Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “We believe this move makes the entire pitching staff stronger, and the club certainly benefits from his addition, in terms of pitching depth and quality.”

There’s still the question of how the two clubs are splitting the remainder of Shields’ big-money contract. Although nothing is official yet, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Padres and White Sox are basically splitting it down the middle:

Without even a hint of doubt, the biggest winner of this deal is Shields. At 29-26 coming into Saturday, the White Sox are still contenders in the AL Central even despite their recent struggles. In joining them, Shields is escaping a Padres team headed by a guy who just threw him under the bus.

“To have a starter like Shields perform as poorly as he did yesterday is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him,” Padres chairman Ron Fowler said in a radio interview after the Seattle Mariners shelled Shields for 10 earned runs Tuesday, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Fowler also referred to his whole team as “miserable failures.” At 22-34 and in last place in the NL West, he at least has that part right.

For their part, the fact they’re keeping shortstop Tim Anderson, right-hander Carson Fulmer and their other top prospects while only paying half of Shields’ remaining contract means the White Sox aren’t risking much in this deal. Which is a good thing, because the pitcher they’re getting is clearly past his prime.

With a 3.76 career ERA and nine straight 200-inning seasons under his belt, Shields still boasts impressive credentials. But the 34-year-old hit a snag with a 3.91 ERA in his first season in San Diego last year, and he is working on a 4.28 ERA through 11 starts this season.

His bomb against the Mariners didn’t help, of course. Before that, his ERA was a respectable 3.06. As Rosenthal noted, Shields was doing things to earn that.

“His ground-ball percentage is the 38th-highest out of the 103 pitchers who have thrown a minimum of one inning per team game, according to STATS LLC,” Rosenthal wrote. “His home run rate, tied for the 47th-lowest, is also better than league average.”

These were facts, and they allow for a bit of optimism about how Shields will fit in Chicago. A high ground-ball rate and a low home run rate are good things that become even better things with a good defense. Per Baseball Prospectus, the difference between the Padres and White Sox is that of a bottom-11 defense and a top-eight defense.

However, Shields’ shellacking at the hands bats of the Mariners was probably inevitable. His ratio of 2.43 strikeouts to one walk through 10 starts was a bit worse than the league average for starting pitchers in 2016. He also wasn’t especially good at inducing soft contact or limiting hard contact on balls in play:

  • Shields’ First 10 GS: 15.8 Soft%, 31.0 Hard%
  • 2016 MLB Starters: 19.0 Soft%, 30.9 Hard%

The two homers Shields surrendered against the Mariners upped his home run rate over the last two seasons to 1.4 per nine innings. That’s worse than the two-year average of 1.1 for starting pitchers. As Eno Sarris of FanGraphs quipped, that doesn’t bode well for a guy who is about to move from roomy Petco Park to less roomy U.S. Cellular Field:

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is one of the best in the business, but it won’t be easy to solve this problem.

It’s no secret that Shields’ velocity has come back down to earth after peaking between 2012 and 2014. His fastball sat in the 92-93 mph range in those three seasons, and his cutter topped out in the 89-90 mph range. In 2016, his fastball is 90-91, and his cutter is 86-87.

They say velocity isn’t everything, but Shields’ last two seasons prove it helps. As Baseball Savant can vouch, less velocity has meant higher slugging percentages against his heat:

At Shields’ age, it’s pointless to entertain the idea of his velocity being rejuvenated by his move to Chicago. It’s still going to be an Achilles’ heel. And because he’ll now be pitching half his games at U.S. Cellular Field rather than Petco Park, it could hurt him even more.

This is not to say the trade will be a complete waste for the White Sox. Shields should at least be a good innings-eater for them. Considering their bullpen has hit the skids over the last month, they could use a guy like that.

But relative to the White Sox’s biggest needs, that’s not a big fix.

Shields doesn’t figure to be the reliable No. 3 Chicago has been missing behind stud left-handers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. He’s also not going to solve what’s ailing the offense. The White Sox rank 10th in the American League in runs scored and 14th in OPS. It’s a wonder the White Sox didn’t try to make a move for an impact bat instead of Shields.

With the Minnesota Twins (16-38) far back in the chase and the Detroit Tigers (27-28) still struggling to find their footing, the Shields trade shouldn’t result in the White Sox losing any ground in the AL Central. But with the Kansas City Royals (30-24) and Cleveland Indians (29-24) playing great baseball, it’s unlikely to help them gain ground either.

The White Sox did well to land Shields without risking much. But in this case, that doesn’t entitle them to a reward.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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James Shields Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Padres SP

With the San Diego Padres continuing to struggle in 2016, James Shields‘ solid start to the year could make him an attractive trade chip for teams seeking help in the starting rotation. 

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Report: White Sox, Padres Discussing Shields

Saturday, May 28

Per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago White Sox are engaged in discussions with the Padres about a deal for Shields. Lin noted the talks have “energy” at this point, though it’s not certain if anything is close to happening.   

The Padres have been looking to trade Shields basically from the moment they signed him in February 2015. He was supposed to be the anchor of their rotation after general manager A.J. Preller traded for Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers to bolster the lineup. 

Instead, the Padres never found their footing, and Shields endured one of his worst seasons in 2015. The right-hander did have 216 strikeouts in 202.1 innings, but he tied Kyle Kendrick for the most home runs allowed (33) and walked a career-high 81 hitters. 

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported last December the Padres were trying to push Shields on the market while noting he was owed $63 million from 2016-18. The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox also engaged the Padres in trade talks during spring training, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman

Shields’ value has likely increased so far this season. He’s got a 3.06 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 61 hits allowed in 64.2 innings. His salary is paying him like a frontline starter, though he’s more like a good No. 3 or 4 at this point in his career. 

The White Sox would be a logical fit because they got off to a strong start and have two workhorses in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana at the top of the rotation, allowing Shields to slot in right behind them without needing to be the face of the group. 

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James Shields Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Padres SP

San Diego Padres starting pitcher James Shields has once again cropped up in trade rumors with the regular season rapidly approaching. 

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Shields Back on Trade Block

Friday, Mar. 25

On Friday, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that a “few teams,” including the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, have talked to the Padres about dealing for Shields.   

However, Dennis Lin of the San Diego-Tribune reported nothing is imminent.

In his first year with the Padres in 2015 after signing a four-year, $75 million deal (viaSpotrac), Shields went 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA, hardly the kind of numbers from a pitcher making ace money. 

He was just one of a few big offseason deals the Padres made prior to the 2015 season that didn’t yield big rewards.

Notable Padres 2014 Offseason Acquisitions
Player Acquired In Deal 2015 Stats Current Team
Melvin Upton Trade 5-year, $72 million (Signed with ATL) 87 G, .259, 5 HR, 17 RBI Padres
Matt Kemp Trade 8-year, $160 million (Signed with LAD) .265, 23 HR, 100 RBI Padres
Justin Upton Trade 6-year, $51.5 million (Signed with ATL) .256, 26 HR, 81 RBI Detroit Tigers
Craig Kimbrel Trade 4-year, $42 million (Signed with ATL) 2.58 ERA, 39 Saves, Boston Red Sox


The Padres hobbled to a 74-88 finish in 2015, which didn’t reflect the kind of roster the team had on paper. 

Pitching had a lot to do with those struggles, as the team’s staff allowed over 4.5 runs per game. Only eight teams in the league allowed more in 2015. 

Due to his sub-par performance in his debut season with the Padres, Shields found himself in the middle of trade talks in December, per Buster Olney:

This came after he cleared waivers in August when the team couldn’t deal him at the trade deadline. 

With the kind of money that he’s set to make, the Padres probably won’t be asking for much in return for Shields. His re-emergence on the trade market could just be another attempt at dumping his salary, per Heyman:

If they can deal Shields, then the Padres could have an opportunity to reinvest their money into building their team to a contender in a loaded National League West with the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks

Teams around the league could look at the 34-year-old as a veteran arm that could bolster their respective rotations. The Orioles could put Shields toward the top of the staff to complement Yovani Gallardo, while the Red Sox could have him complement David Price. 


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

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Finding Trade Partners for MLB’s Bloated Superstar Contracts on the Block

Finding logical trade destinations for notorious underachievers like Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp is no enviable task.

Once upon a time, Ramirez and Kemp were mashing together in the heart of the order for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, those guys headline the list of potential trade chips playing on bloated superstar contracts.

Fortunately for the executives who could be tasked with trying to move players like Ramirez and Kemp, there are strategies to help facilitate such deals. The first option is to attach the overpaid big leaguer to an intriguing prospect. The second is to eat some (or potentially a lot of) cash.

After digging through the stats, examining all the contracts and surveying the markets for bats and arms, there’s no question some of these players will be easier to move than others. It’s a race to the bottom, but ultimately it looks like Kemp wins the regrettable distinction of most untradeable of all.

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James Shields Is Going from Bad Contract to Potential Coveted Trade Piece

James Shields’ downward trend started two Octobers ago.

During the 2014 Kansas City Royals playoff run, Shields, the supposed ace of the staff, had a 6.12 ERA in 25 innings. That severely dropped his stock going into last offseason, and he ended up having to wait until days before spring training started before signing a four-year, $75 million contract with the San Diego Padres.

The disappointment continued into this season with Shields’ 3.91 ERA, 4.45 FIP and 33 home runs allowed while making half his starts in Petco Park, historically a severe pitcher’s park. Partly because of those numbers, along with the $65 million still owed to him over the next three seasons—that includes a $2 million buyout—and the Padres’ desire to shed big contracts, Shields is now on the trading block.

While the contract coupled with Shields’ recent production looks ugly at a glance, the current market for starting pitchers, even the lower-tier arms, has the soon-to-be 34-year-old Shields looking more and more attractive to teams seeking rotation help. Free-agent pitchers have their average annual values rising, and those aces being rumored in trades are priced so high they are virtually unavailable.

This could put Shields, an arm that has topped 200 innings in each of the last nine seasons, on several radars. And because of his down 2015, he could end up being a Comeback Player of the Year contender next year.

The open market has seen two legitimate aces sign for well more than $200 million, a pitcher with a 4.96 ERA last season and a 4.09 career ERA in Jeff Samardzija sign for $90 million and the Toronto Blue Jays give J.A. Happ and his career 4.13 ERA $36 million over three years despite him being 33.

That makes Shields a touch more attractive as a rotation filler whose average annual salary is at $18.75 million and on par with the likes of Rick Porcello ($20 million in 2016) and Homer Bailey ($18 million), two pitchers who had ERAs near or above 5.00 in 2015, respectively.

The problem could lie with the Padres, though. While teams might have interest in Shields, the organization seems to not understand his diminished value, nor their opportunity to trade him and get out from some of the money owed. The team, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, will not kick in any money in a trade and wants at the very least a young shortstop in return. If that is the case, expect the rumors on Shields to stay calm because that is an unrealistic asking price for a declining pitcher.

Then there is how other teams view Shields as a pitcher; never mind his salary. Simply stated, they believe he is getting worse.

In 2015, Shields’ fastball was down more than a mile per hour from last season, and his cutter was down nearly a mile per hour, according to FanGraphs. That was likely a factor in opponents having a .327 OBP, .450 slugging percentage and .776 OPS against him. All of those numbers are the highest for Shields since 2010, when he had a 5.18 ERA and he established himself as a front-line starter a season before.

Another significant red flag is Shields’ fledgling command. His 81 walks obliterated his previous career high by 13. And despite him posting a career-high 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, his strikeout-to-walk ratio sank to a career-low 2.67—he had a career-high 4.09 mark in that category in 2014.

If those trends continue, Shields is not likely to opt out of his deal after next season, which he can do and forfeit $44 million the following two years. Had Shields pitched well enough to make him an opt-out candidate after next season, his value would be higher.

Even with all that working against Shields’ value and against an acquiring team getting a positive return on its investment, there is value here. Not a lot of it comes from Shields himself, other than him being a durable, innings-eating arm who may or may not have another bounce-back season in him. Instead, much of it comes from the current market.

Costs remain high for impact arms in free agency and on the trade market, which is probably why Padres general manager A.J. Preller has set Shields’ price so high, aside from him not wanting to totally eat his first significant signing in the GM’s chair.

The bottom line is nobody is going to give the Padres touted prospects and take on all of the money owed to Shields. One or the other would go a long way in propelling talks forward, but as of now there has been no confirmation on any team actively pursuing Shields, who turns 34 in a couple of weeks.

If the Padres and Preller swallow some of the contract and get out from at least the majority of the money on the books, they could likely trade Shields. And if a team could get him for cheaper than $65 million for the next few seasons, he could end up being an asset and not a liability going forward.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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MLB Rumors: Top Trade Rumors Ahead of 2015 Winter Meetings

The 2015 Major League Baseball winter meetings have yet to start, but it’s already obvious that this will be one of the craziest and least predictable offseasons in years. 

Zack Greinke provided the biggest jolt so far this winter, agreeing to a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. Greinke going to the desert has a ripple effect on the rest of MLB, particularly in the National League West where the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were considered favorites for the right-hander, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale

While free agency is often the focus at the winter meetings, the trade winds are also likely to bear fruit. Trading is also a more practical way for teams that can’t spend nine figures on a single player to bolster their rosters for 2016 and beyond. 

Before the MLB world descends on Nashville for the start of this year’s winter meetings, here are the top trade rumors floating around that could provide the next great ripple effect. 


The Shelby Miller Market

Young, cost-controlled starting pitching is the greatest luxury in MLB, with Atlanta Braves right-hander Shelby Miller falling into that category with three years left before he can become a free agent. 

With the Braves taking on a full-scale rebuild, it’s only prudent that Miller’s name would at least be discussed in trade rumblings. 

Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post did report that the Colorado Rockies at one point called the Braves about Miller, but the two sides had not spoken “in a while.”

Miller has been one of the most sought-after items on the trade market, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reporting at the end of November that “20 or so teams” have shown some level of interest in the 25-year-old. 

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick recently noted the Braves were likely to keep Miller, despite receiving “a ton of hits” about him. 

The Rockies are a mess with no clear sense of direction. They finally bit the bullet last year by trading Troy Tulowitzki, evidently accepting a rebuild was necessary, but their return lacked impact. Jeff Hoffman was a top-10 pick in 2014, but he’s only pitched 104 innings in the minors after having Tommy John surgery.

Pitching in Colorado is different than anywhere else because of the thin air and what it can do to flatten pitches out. Developing power arms in the starting rotation, guys who can miss bats even when their command is slightly off, is essential for the Rockies to succeed. 

Miller would be an interesting test case for the Rockies because he does have power stuff, with FanGraphs measuring his fastball last year at a career-high 94 mph. He’s not, however, a prolific strikeout pitcher with 298 punchouts over 388.1 innings since 2014. 

The Braves have all the power in any negotiation because Miller has proved to be very good with a 3.22 career ERA, 1.24 WHIP and at least 31 starts in each of the last three years. Trading him now, as the franchise is essentially parting with anyone who will get expensive in the next two years, would fit their plan. 

Unfortunately for interested parties, there doesn’t seem to be any urgency on the Braves’ part to deal Miller. 


James Shields Available Again

One year after signing with the San Diego Padres, James Shields is being put on the market once again by the National League West club. 

Rosenthal reported the Padres “think” they are in a position to move Shields because his remaining contract ($65 million over three years) will look better with current free-agent prices continuing to rise. 

However, Rosenthal added other teams are “skeptical” about San Diego’s thinking and the 33-year-old doesn’t look as impressive as he once did:

Yet another matter complicating the process for any interested team, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, is the way San Diego is looking to make a deal around Shields:

The one valuable asset Shields still has is his ability to eat innings. He’s made at least 33 starts covering at least 202.1 innings every year since 2008. 

On the bad side of things, Shields had a 3.91 ERA, below-average ERA+ (93) and 33 home runs allowed last year pitching half of his games in spacious Petco Park. Paying that pitcher nearly $22 million per season is foolish. 

Shields, who is about to turn 34 on Dec. 20, isn’t likely to rediscover his stuff and velocity, so the odds of him opting out after next season and leaving millions of dollars on the table that he won’t recoup in another deal are slim. 

The Padres will likely be stuck paying Shields for a subpar performance in their rotation, unless they decide to take a different approach and kick in a lot of money in a potential trade. 


The Hanley Ramirez Dilemma

The Boston Red Sox have already answered their two biggest questions this offseason, signing David Price to lead their starting rotation and acquiring Craig Kimbrel from San Diego to close games. 

One lingering question is what will happen with Hanley Ramirez, who is under contract for three more years. 

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported last week that Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski was seeking to move the 31-year-old. 

“The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense,” Cafardo wrote. “There are huge hurdles to cross, however. One is money. With a little more than $68 million remaining on Ramirez’s deal, the Red Sox would need to eat at least half.”

It’s important to note Cafardo‘s report came out before Baltimore acquired Mark Trumbo from Seattle, so it’s unclear how much interest, if any, would remain on the Orioles’ side. 

Seattle doesn’t seem likely after the M’s signed Nori Aoki to take Trumbo‘s spot in the outfield mix. Ramirez also doesn’t fit in Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto’s early offseason philosophy of improving his team’s defense. 

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald added Dombrowski will struggle to find a suitor for Ramirez because he’s “a soon-to-turn-32-year-old without a position who has missed an average of 41 games over the last four seasons because of assorted injuries.”

Unlike the Padres’ plan with Shields, the Red Sox don’t seem like a franchise that would insist on a team interested in Ramirez taking on his entire remaining salary. 

However, given Ramirez’s limitations because of injuries and his disappointing .717 OPS last year, the Red Sox will be better off hanging onto him and hoping he’s able to rebuild his value in 2016. It’s not a likely outcome, but it’s one they can afford to take. 


Stats per Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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James Shields Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Padres SP

The San Diego Padres are reportedly looking to trade starting pitcher James Shields just one season after signing him to a major free-agent contract.

Continue for updates.

Padres Testing Waters on Shields Ahead of Winter Meetings

Thursday, Dec. 3

Buster Olney of ESPN reported the Padres are trying to “push” Shields into the trade market to potentially get out from under the rest of his contract.

The 33-year-old starter is scheduled to make $63 million over the next three years, and the deal also has a $16 million option for 2019, according to Spotrac.

Shields is coming off a mediocre season with San Diego that saw him post a 3.91 ERA and 1.33 WHIP across 33 starts. On the positive side, he did strike out 216 hitters in 202.1 innings.

Still, those numbers don’t represent much value for a player who’s going to make $21 million in each of the next three seasons. A career 3.74 ERA suggests there might not be a major improvement in his numbers over the remaining years of the deal, either.

So the Padres probably wouldn’t be able to acquire much talent if they did find a potential suitor for Shields. It would likely be more of a salary dump to a contending team looking to bolster its rotation in the short term.

Whether San Diego is willing to make that type of move is unclear. If it’s still looking for multiple assets in return, it would need to eat a sizable portion of the contract to make it happen. No matter how you slice it, the situation is not ideal.


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James Shields Is Rare Game-Changer Up for Grabs in August Trade Market

The San Diego Padres‘ dreams faded rather quickly this summer.

The offseason was an incredibly aggressive one for first-year general manager A.J. Preller, who brought in no fewer than seven new players to upgrade a team that had not finished higher than third place in the previous four seasons.

With those moves came gargantuan expectations within a division that already housed a club with three World Series titles in the past five years (the San Francisco Giants) and another with a record-breaking payroll (the Los Angeles Dodgers).

For a short time, the Padres lived up to the hype, winning 10 of their first 15 games. Then came a reality check in the form of seven losses in their next eight contests. They never realistically sniffed the top of the National League West again. 

With that kind of letdown comes consequences, including a fired manager (Bud Black) and the expectation to sell at the trade deadlines, both in July and August. But even though the Padres were virtually silent in July and most of the subsequent month, they still have a valuable trade chip in starter James Shields.

He has already cleared waivers, meaning he can be traded to any team until the August 31 deadline. And the Padres would probably like to get rid of his contract before it gets too heavy for their payroll.

Shields cleared waivers because his four-year, $75 million contract turns huge next season.

The Padres are paying him $10 million this year, of which less than $2 million is left, and his salary dramatically jumps to $21 million in each of the next three campaigns with a $16 million team option for a fifth or a $2 million buyout in 2019. Shields can opt out after next season, but given the way the entirety of this year has gone, he’s unlikely to do so.

Understandably, no team was going to take a chance at claiming the 33-year-old right-hander and risk being stuck with him and that contract.

Despite the money, Shields has a certain appeal to teams pushing for playoff spots with dreams of World Series appearances floating in their heads.

Since July 1, Shields has taken the ball 10 times and produced a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings. Despite that, the Padres are 3-7 in those starts and currently sit 6.5 games out of first place in their division and 11.5 out of the second wild-card spot with four teams ahead of them.

All of this gives the Padres incentive to move the postseason-tested Shields, and it gives a contender something to think about heading into the final days of the August trade deadline.

The Padres are under no mandate to cut their franchise-record $108 million payroll, nor to trade Shields, but one option could be a swapping of hugely disappointing contracts. For example, the Padres could pursue a trade for Pablo Sandoval, whom they sought in free agency last offseason, from the Boston Red Sox along with another player or cash in exchange for Shields, a trade suggested by the Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo.

The Padres are unlikely to eat too much of Shields’ deal, so this kind of option might be their best bet to put him on his fourth team in four seasons.

“It makes too much sense, so it won’t happen,” a scout told Cafardo of the possibility earlier this month.

Some of the reasons Shields did not sign with the Padres until February undoubtedly included that he was at an advanced age and the mileage on his arm was already great, which kept teams away. Leading into this season, he had thrown over 200 innings in eight of the past nine years, and the only one in which he failed to do so was his rookie season, when he made only 21 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Decline seemed inevitable, and no club wanted to flirt with the disastrous possibility that Shields would completely fall off a cliff without warning. And over his first 16 starts that certainly seemed to be the case as he compiled a 4.24 ERA and allowed 16 home runs despite making his new home in cavernous Petco Park, a stadium that in 2014 allowed among the fewest long balls in the majors.

However, he’s at 158.2 innings pitched with a 3.74 ERA—right in line with his career averages. He’s also at 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings (though his walk rate is dramatically up from 1.7 last year to 3.2), his highest mark yet.

A day before last month’s non-waiver deadline, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune detailed Shields’ decline, ending his piece with this: “None of this is to say that Shields can’t be a productive pitcher moving forward. He clearly can, but the Padres might be out of luck if they were hoping to get someone else to pay him to be a $21 million pitcher over the next three years.”

That may still be true, and the Padres, if they want to move him, might have to eat some of that money. But things have changed since that examination of Shields’ fall. He’s gotten much better over the last two months.

And in a time of need, that might be enough for some contender to take the bait.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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10 MLB Stars Most Likely to Be Traded This Offseason

The speculation just never ends for the likes of Carlos Gonzalez and James Shields.

Both standouts survived the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and have so far survived the August waiver period, but the next big question is if those guys could be headed out of town when the offseason arrives. In the process of ranking the 10 MLB stars who are most likely to be traded this winter, an assortment of factors were taken into consideration:

  • How extensively a given player has been linked to recent rumors
  • His contract status
  • How each player fits into the plans of his respective club

Nearly all the big leaguers who cracked this list are owed big-time money in 2016 and beyond. As it turns out, Gonzalez isn’t the only high-priced Colorado Rockies star who ends up landing right at the top of the rankings.

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