James Shields Rumors

West Notes: Shoemaker, Holland, Padres, Cain

The Angels demoted righty Matt Shoemaker to Triple-A today, capping off what has been a disappointing season for the 28-year-old.  Coming off an impressive 2014 rookie campaign, Shoemaker has been inconsistent this year, and his rough last two outings (13 ER in just 7 1/3 combined innings) apparently convinced the Angels that he needed a breather in the minors.  Shoemaker has a 4.76 ERA over 117 1/3 innings this season, though advanced metrics — such as a 3.80 SIERA, 4.01 xFIP, 8.1 K/9 and 3.5 K/BB rate — suggest he’s pitched better than his ERA indicates.  Shoemaker’s demotion leaves the Halos with a four-man rotation for now; right-hander Nick Tropeano is probably a good bet to be promoted, as he’s already made a couple of spot starts for Los Angeles this season.

Here’s some more from both the AL and NL West divisions…

  • The Rangers will decide tomorrow whether Derek Holland will be activated from the DL and start on Wednesday, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes.  Holland told reporters that he felt good after a full bullpen session today, and he is ready to make just his second appearance of 2015.  Holland has played in just seven games in 2014-15 due to knee surgery, back spasms and a shoulder injury, the latter being responsible for his current DL stint.
  • The Padres didn’t move any of their big names prior to the July trade deadline and ESPN’s Christina Kahrl believes the team may similarly stand pat in August.  Dealing away controllable young players wouldn’t have helped the team contend in 2016, and veterans like Ian Kennedy or Joaquin Benoit wouldn’t have brought premium prospects back in return.  As for bigger-name veterans, Justin Upton may not have netted more than the first-round pick the Padres would obtain when Upton rejects a qualifying offer and possibly leaves in free agency this winter.  As for James Shields, Kahrl points out that the righty had a long wait on the open market last winter, so teams who passed on Shields then may not be eager to give up prospects to acquire him now.
  • It took a lot of work to get Colin Rea to the majors, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a profile of the rookie right-hander’s growth from being a lightly-regarded project of a prospect to a Padres starter.
  • The moving and organizational switches that come with being a pro ballplayer can be especially hard for a player’s family, the Arizona Republic’s Zach Buchanan illustrates in an interview with Taylor Ray (wife of Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray) and the wives of several other D’Backs players.
  • Mike Leake‘s return from the DL this week will force the Giants to make a pitching roster move, and CSNBayArea.com’s Alex Pavlovic writes that bumping Matt Cain from the rotation is an option the club is considering.  Cain has struggled through an injury-plagued season, posting a 6.05 ERA in only 41 2/3 innings.

Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

First, several notes are in order. For one, many players have and will clear waivers without public reports revealing that status. (Some of them have already been traded, such as Mike Napoli.) Remember, also, that players must be acquired by August 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. And bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers.

Last Updated: 8/29/2015

  • Aaron Harang, Phillies — The Phillies will have trouble dealing Harang due to lousy production. He has a 7.09 ERA since the All Star break. He has about $1MM left on his $5MM contract. He’ll be a free agent after the season. If anybody acquires him, it will be as a September spot starter.
  • Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox — The Red Sox are already planning to experiment with Ramirez at first base. Presumably, the hope is that he’ll be healthier and more productive at the cold corner. His .249/.291/.426 line is a sharp disappointment, especially after a hot April. Since May 20, he’s hitting a painful .236/.275/.378. An August trade seems highly unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out entirely. The financial component may be the most difficult aspect to solve. He’s owed the balance of $19MM this season plus $22MM in each of the next three seasons. He also has a $22MM vesting option for 2019.
  • Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox — Like Ramirez, Sandoval has left fans wanting more in his first season with the Red Sox. He’s hitting a career worst .254/.304/.387, but he has shown some signs of life. Over his last 12 games, he’s slashing .265/.308/.469. The Red Sox have responded by bumping him to second in the lineup. He’s also looked more agile in the field. Several playoff contenders could upgrade at third base with a healthy Sandoval. However, it will be difficult to work around what’s left of his five-year, $95MM contract.
  • Starlin CastroCubs — Moved off of shortstop and still owed $38MM after the end of 2015, Castro is a risk. But at just 25 years of age, and possessing good offensive skills for an up-the-middle defender, plenty of teams would be interested in giving him a shot. A deal still seems rather unlikely over the last three days of August, though Castro could find himself heading elsewhere over the winter.
  • Austin JacksonMariners — Jackson was once a cornerstone-type center fielder, but he’s seen his productivity fall off quite a bit over the last two seasons. Now 28 and set to hit the market after the year, Jackson has about $1.725MM left on his contract (as of August 24th) and no longer looks like a starting-caliber acquisition for a contender, though he also isn’t a clear platoon option since he’s always posted neutral splits. On the positive side, Jackson is still capable of playing center and has some pop and speed.
  • Jonny GomesBraves — Gomes is a limited but useful player. The 34-year-old is a prototypical high-character clubhouse guy, and mashes lefties. Though his pop is well off recent levels this year, Gomes has had no trouble reaching base against opposing southpaws, and is playing on a relatively manageable $4MM salary this year. Plus, he comes with a $3MM club option for 2016. (The option vests at 325 plate appearances, but that seems unlikely for a part-time player.)
  • Dexter Fowler, Cubs — It’s somewhat surprising that the 29-year-old Fowler, who was owed $2.49MM through season’s end as of Aug. 18, would clear waivers. However, rival clubs probably assume that the Cubs have little intention of trading a regular, solid contributor in the midst of a playoff race. Fowler will be a free agent at season’s end and seems unlikely to change teams this month.
  • Addison Reed, Diamondbacks — Still just 26, Reed’s star has faded considerably since a trade to the Diamondbacks. This year, he’s lost the closer’s role and been optioned to Triple-A, though he’s been sharp since his return to the Majors. In the first 10 innings following his recall, Reed yielded just one run on nine hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. But, he’s owed $1.33MM through season’s end (as of Aug. 17) and still has a an unsightly 4.46 ERA on the year as a whole.
  • David Aardsma, Braves — Through Aug. 17, Aardsma has a respectable 3.95 ERA and has averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. However, he’s also averaging 4.6 walks per nine and is generating grounders at less than a 30 percent clip. He’s affordable, as he signed a minor league contract with the Braves earlier in the year after opting out of a contract with the Dodgers.
  • Edward Mujica, Athletics — Mujica’s already been designated for assignment once (by the Red Sox) this season, and a trade to Oakland’s spacious park didn’t improve his numbers. In fact, he’s pitched worse with the A’s. Through Aug. 17, Mujica had yielded a ghastly .309/.336/.525 batting line to opposing hitters.
  • Fernando Rodney, Mariners — Rodney’s earning $7MM in 2015 and is having one of the worst seasons of his career. His strikeout and walk rates have both gone in the wrong direction, and while he’s still averaging a very healthy 94.9 mph on his heater, he’s sporting a disastrous 1.44 HR/9 rate as of Aug. 17.
  • John Axford, Rockies — Axford allowed only one run through his first 19 innings this season, but in the subsequent 19 2/3 innings, he melted down and allowed 19 runs on 29 hits and 15 walks. Some of his struggles are tied to Coors Field, but his poor control will be a factor regardless of what park he calls his home.
  • Jose Reyes, Rockies — The 32-year-old Reyes has struggled offensively since being dealt to the Rockies and has seen his defensive work take a hit over the past couple of seasons as well. He was still a very serviceable bat while playing with Toronto, though, and a departure from the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre could benefit his legs and back, perhaps even restoring some of his speed and range. Some have speculated on a potential move to second base for the former All-Star, who is owed about $54.37MM through the end of the 2017 season (as of Aug. 14).
  • Chase UtleyPhillies — Utley, 36, has produced at well below his typical rate for much of the year and just ended an extended DL stint. But he’s a highly-respected veteran, and the ankle issue could explain his struggles. Indeed, Utley has looked more like himself since returning to action. He’s owed about $4.5MM the rest of the way (as of Aug. 11), but the absence means that he won’t be a threat to trigger a vesting option for next year. For teams looking to bolster their options at second base down the stretch, Utley will surely hold appeal.
  • James Shields, Padres — The veteran hurler is in the first season of a four-year pact, making him an atypical trade candidate, but San Diego’s struggles and desire to clear payroll could see him dangled. There’s only about $2MM left to pay in 2015 (as of Aug. 11), but the deal is backloaded: it comes with $65MM in future guarantees (including the buyout on a $16MM option for 2019). The contract does have an opt-out after next season. Shields is already 33, and hasn’t been quite as good this season as in years past, but he’s still a durable and reliable arm who could help a lot of clubs.

James Shields Clears Waivers

Padres righty James Shields has cleared revocable trade waivers, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter).  This means that Shields is now free to be dealt to any team.  As Olney notes, it’s no surprise that Shields cleared waivers, as he is one of “lots of big-contract players” who are going unclaimed, as is often the case during the August waiver period.

Shields figured heavily in several trade rumors prior to the July 31 deadline, though he and several other Padres veterans stayed put as general manager A.J. Preller chose to stand pat in the hope that his team could make a late charge.  This hope has yet to pan out, as San Diego is 2-7 in August.  Dealing free agents like Justin Upton or Ian Kennedy now will be much more difficult for the Padres given the waiver process, not to mention moving controllable young pieces like Tyson Ross.

Shields is an interesting case, however, as high-payroll teams in need of starting pitching could still conceivably make a move for the veteran right-hander.  Shields is owed roughly $2.25MM for the remainder of this season, and then $21MM in each of the next three seasons, plus a $16MM club option (with a $2MM buyout) for 2019.  He can also opt out of his deal following the 2016 season, meaning that some teams could make a move thinking they’d only be committed to Shields for little over a year.  Then again, Shields will turn 35 in December 2016, so he’s probably just likely to stick with his current deal since teams may be hesitant to pay a pitcher more than $43MM guaranteed for his age-35 and age-36 seasons.

Had a team claimed Shields, the Padres could’ve simply let him walk and the claiming team would’ve had to absorb his entire salary.  San Diego is now free to explore trades that could see them offer to cover some of Shields’ guarantee in exchange for better prospects, or perhaps (as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggested this morning) Shields could be moved for another high-priced player like Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Players On Revocable Waivers: Thursday

Now that the non-waiver trade deadline has passed, it becomes much more difficult for teams to move players. Those looking for a crash course can check out MLBTR’s August trade primer, but the quick version is that each team will place a significant amount of players on revocable trade waivers this month. If a player is claimed, his team can either force the claiming team to take the entirety of his contract, work out a trade with the claiming team (they have 48.5 hours to do so) or pull the player back off waivers. Players that clear waivers can be traded to any team. If a player is put through waivers a second time, his team loses the ability to revoke the waivers.

Bear in mind that teams will often place players they have no intention of trading on revocable trade waivers. There’s no harm in the process, it can help to mask the players they do want to trade, and it allows them a chance to gauge interest and be overwhelmed by an unexpected offer. (Again, for further detail, check out MLBTR’s full post on the process.)

All that said, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo has provided our first batch of players that have been placed on revocable waivers. It’s not clear when each of these names was placed on waivers, so some may have already cleared or been pulled back…

  • The Red Sox have placed Mike Napoli, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, Hanley Ramirez, Craig Breslow and Justin Masterson on waivers. Of that group, I’d imagine that Napoli (earning $16MM in 2015), Castillo (owed $56.5MM from 2016-20), Ramirez ($66MM from 2016-18) and Masterson (earning $9.5MM in 2015) would each clear just based on salary alone. The remaining portion of Breslow’s $2MM salary isn’t exactly prohibitive, but he’s posted a 4.25 ERA this year with unsightly peripheral stats that have led stats like FIP and xFIP to suggest that his ERA should be north of 5.00. Lefties are hitting .271/.354/.456 against Breslow in 2015.
  • Holt and Bradley, on the other hand, would probably be interest to a large number of teams. The versatile Holt can play all over the diamond and is hitting .277/.351/.380 on the season with an increased walk rate and positive value contributed both defensively and on the basepaths. He’s controllable through 2019, and the Sox almost certainly aren’t interested in moving him, though a claiming team will have the opportunity to offer something substantial. Bradley’s stock has fallen quite a bit from his days as a Top 100 prospect, but he’s an elite glove in center field that is still just 25 years old and can be controlled through 2020. Certainly, there are teams that would have interest in trying to sort out his offensive struggles. (He’s batted just .188/.264/.269 in 589 Major League plate appearances.)
  • Cafardo also reports that both James Shields and Matt Kemp have been placed on waivers by the Padres. Kemp has struggled in the field and produced a roughly league-average batting line (park-adjusted) at the plate, so teams aren’t likely to place a claim on his remaining salary.
  • Shields has $65MM coming his way after 2015 due to the backloaded nature of his contract, and he can opt out after the 2016 season. It’d be a risk for any club to claim him on the heels of reports that the Padres were shopping him somewhat aggressively in July. The Padres’ thinking could be that they know his market at this time and are confident that he’s less likely to be claimed in early August, so getting him through waivers early will allow them to spend the month further exploring trades. Shields has been uncharacteristically homer-prone this season, but the workhorse has made 23 starts and turned in a 3.74 ERA with a much-improved strikeout rate. He’s posted a 2.57 ERA with just five homers over his past 42 innings as well.

Quick Hits: Kasten, Mariners, Prospects

The Dodgers made several additions at the trade deadline yet didn’t move any of their top prospects to do so, a tactic that team president Stan Kasten generally prefers.  “I think I am well known, both by reputation and by my own comments, as having a deep, deep need to develop the farm system as a way of sustaining excellence over the long haul,” Kasten tells Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.  “It takes discipline to avoid the short term for the long term. And I think we have done that. That doesn’t mean we won’t trade anyone. We will. But we are going to keep our focus on retaining the majority of our high-end prospects so that we can be good and don’t have these pressing needs at the deadlines.”

Here’s some more from around the league as the baseball world still settles down from a busy pre-deadline week…

  • It seems like the Mariners are looking ahead to 2016, though GM Jack Zduriencik described his team’s deadline moves as helpful for both the present and future.  “It’s more about the future, yeah, but also the production you are getting at the big-league level and if you can replace that and still be competitive while adding talent to your organization,” Zduriencik told reporters, including The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish. “I think that’s what we accomplished.”
  • A whopping 44 of the 57 prospects dealt over the last two weeks were pitchers, as several team officials told Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper that there weren’t many quality minor league position players available on the trade market.  Cooper breaks down the 57 traded prospects, which included six members of BA’s list of the top 50 prospects in the sport.
  • Looking ahead to the August waiver period, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick lists several players who could still be on the move this month.  One of the names listed, Martin Prado, probably won’t be dealt as Marlins officials say Prado is in the team’s plans for 2016.  It was reported prior to the July 31st deadline that Miami could move Prado but only for a major return.
  • James Shields, Jeff Samardzija and Starlin Castro are three more players who could be August trade candidates, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says (Twitter link).
  • All 30 general managers receive grades for their trade deadline performance from ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required).  The Blue Jays‘ Alex Anthopoulos was the only GM to receive an A+, while the Diamondbacks‘ Dave Stewart was the only GM to get an F since Arizona didn’t make any deadline trades.

Cafardo’s Latest: Gray, Iwakuma, Red Sox, Padres

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo recaps the trade deadline moves, evaluates which teams fared well or poorly with their transactions (or lack thereof) and also looks ahead to the August trade market in his latest column.  Some highlights…

  • “Plenty of teams” approached the A’s about a trade for Sonny Gray, though unsurprisingly, Oakland held onto the young ace.
  • The Mariners believe they can re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma (a pending free agent) for one or two more seasons.  For this season, the M’s decided to keep the righty at the deadline, though Iwakuma drew interest from multiple teams.
  • Mike Napoli could be an August trade candidate, as one GM called him “a guy teams want to see a little bit more of” to see if Napoli can heat up at the plate.  The Red Sox first baseman is only hitting .206/.307/.387 with 13 homers over 362 plate appearances.  Boston shopped Napoli prior to the July deadline though the Pirates were the only team known to have any interest.
  • There was some deadline day speculation that the Padres could make a run at Pablo Sandoval, though no deal materialized.
  • The Red Sox pursued Cole Hamels for 18 months but are still looking for a rotation-topping ace as Hamels ended up dealt to Texas.  Cafardo wonders if all this wasted time will hurt Boston, as he feels the Sox could’ve matched or topped the prospect package the Phillies got from the Rangers.  Now, the Red Sox will have to spent far more than Hamels’ remaining salary to obtain an ace this winter.
  • One team evaluator though the Phillies ultimately fared well in their deadline deals for Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere, though “from where they started in their demands to where they wound up, it’s quite a fall. But if you look around at other deals, nobody was giving up No. 1 or 2 prospects. They settled for quantity in some cases, but they got a fair share of quality, as well.”
  • Cafardo was surprised to see the Tigers deal Joakim Soria, “as relievers of this ilk are hard to come by and the Tigers have a history of being unable to identify them. They finally did with Soria and yet they traded him.”
  • The fact that the Tigers entrusted GM Dave Dombrowski with trading Soria, Yoenis Cespedes and David Price could be a sign that Dombrowski may remain in Detroit, Cafardo opines.  The two sides hadn’t made progress on an extension as of early July, though Dombrowski’s last extension to remain with the Tigers (in 2011) wasn’t settled until August of that year.
  • You can add the Nationals to the list of teams that showed some interest in Justin Upton, as Cafardo writes that Washington “considered” a move for the Padres outfielder.
  • Speaking of Upton, Cafardo thinks the Padres could move both he and James Shields in August if the team finally decides they’re out of the race.  I would think an Upton deal would be extremely difficult, since any number of teams would put in waiver claims to block him from going to a rival and wouldn’t hesitate taking on the roughly $5MM remaining on Upton’s contract.  As for Shields, his much longer and pricier contract makes him unlikely to be claimed on waivers, so Cafardo thinks a team like the Yankees could make a move for Shields to upgrade their rotation.

Latest On Padres: Baez, Kimbrel, Deadline Strategy

2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.

11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.

Trade Notes: Chapman, Chavez, Shields, Dodgers, Gomez, Kelley, O’s, Nats

The Reds are currently “examining offers” for closer Aroldis Chapman, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney, but at this time, there’s no sense as to whether or not they feel “devoted” to finishing a trade as they did with Johnny Cueto over the weekend. Chapman’s name has been connected to the Nationals (who have since acquired Jonathan Papelbon), D-Backs, Blue Jays and others in recent weeks, but because he’s controlled through 2016, the urge to move him isn’t as great as the urge to move Cueto or teammate Mike Leake.

A few more general trade notes for all you late-night readers…

  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick gets the sense that the Athletics won’t move right-hander Jesse Chavez (Twitter link). I listed Chavez in my breakdown of the trade market for starting pitching, but as Crasnick notes, he’s controlled through 2016 at what should be a reasonable rate. Chavez is owed just $2.15MM in 2015 and should get a nice, but not enormous raise in arbitration this winter. Following today’s trade of Ben Zobrist, A’s general manager Billy Beane said that he didn’t plan on moving pieces that are controlled beyond the current season.
  • Sticking with the ESPN group, Jayson Stark noted in today’s roundup of trade rumors that one exec predicted to him that James Shields would end up with the Giants. However, Stark hears that the Padres have changed their stance on trading within the division and now may be hesitant to trade their top chips to a division-rival. San Diego, of course, made a huge intra-division trade by acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers this offseason.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers, Stark also hears that L.A. could land two starting pitchers instead of one this week. He goes on to add that the Dodgers have a limited number of prospects they’re actually willing to deal, though, so if they can line up on a trade for a big name like Cole Hamels, they may not have the remaining pieces to add a second arm.
  • One executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he doesn’t think the Brewers particularly want to trade Carlos Gomez (Twitter link). The asking price on Gomez at this time is “very” high, the exec tells Rosenthal, adding that he thinks Milwaukee is hoping to get blown away but may otherwise hang onto the center fielder.
  • The Pirates have interest in Padres right-hander Shawn Kelley, reports John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times (on Twitter). A free agent following the season, Kelley has turned in a very strong 3.09 ERA with excellent strikeout-to-walk numbers in 2015. He’s averaged 10.9 K/9 against a minuscule 1.8 BB/9 in his first season with San Diego.
  • The Orioles‘ interest in Carlos Gonzalez was characterized by one source as “mild,” tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, Morosi tweets that the Orioles are still in the Justin Upton market. Baltimore is known to be looking for a corner outfield upgrade but has limited prospect depth from which it can deal to achieve that goal.
  • Morosi also notes (via Twitter) that the Nationals are interested in upgrading their bench, but the want to fully assess the health of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, both of whom are now off the disabled list. He notes that an extra outfielder would be a nice pickup for the team, speculatively listing both Will Venable of the Padres and Gerardo Parra of the Brewers as fits.

Cubs, Padres Talked Castro; Cubs Not In On Shields

8:57pm: In their conversations with the Padres, the Cubs have been focused on Ross, per a Rosenthal tweet. As he notes, that isn’t exactly surprising. The 28-year-old has been rather excellent dating back to 2013, and comes with two more seasons of control. There’s a good argument to be made that his contract is the organization’s single most valuable asset.

As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today, a wide variety of teams have interest in Ross, including the Blue Jays, Astros, Dodgers, and Rangers.

8:02pm: Whatever other talks the teams may have had, Chicago is not making a run at Shields, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.

7:35pm: The Cubs have had discussions with the Padres regarding shortstop Starlin Castro, Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports report on Twitter. San Diego does not look like a traditional buyer, but as noted in MLBTR’s overview of the shortstop trade market, the team makes sense as a future-oriented acquirer at the position.

Castro is still just 25, though he’s playing in his sixth big league season. He is owed $37MM over the next four seasons and can be controlled with a $16MM option in 2020 ($1MM buyout).

That contract once looked like an asset, but after a second rough campaign in three years, it looks more like a reasonable risk. Castro owns a .233/.268/.302 slash over 399 plate appearances, which falls well below his roughly league-average career output. He’s generally regarded as a mediocre defender at short, and metrics suggest he’s slightly to firmly below average in that department.

It’s not clear what kind of deal would be considered, but San Diego has a number of players who could hold appeal to the Cubs. Morosi suggests the possibility of a swap of James Shields, which holds at least some plausibility (as a starting point, at least) since both are owed significant future money and could arguably be better fits for the current needs of the other club. But he gave no indication that there is anything to that idea other than his own analysis.

Looking at the San Diego roster for other pieces that could be intriguing to the Cubs — whether or not as part of any deal involving Castro — the rotation certainly seems the place to focus. We’ve heard plenty in the past about the need for a rotation addition in Chicago, and both Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner are younger, controllable pieces that have been mentioned as possible trade pieces. On the rental side, Ian Kennedy should hold some appeal and could also be a theoretical fit for Chicago. Outfielder Will Venable and reliever Joaquin Benoit are two more pending free agents that could make sense.

Should the Cubs make a major move, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has explained that it would likely be for a controllable piece. (Via ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers; links to Twitter.) While the team is entertaining rental options, it seems unlikely to pay a steep price to add a premium player that will hit the open market after the season.

“If we do something on the bigger end, it will involve players that will help us beyond this year,” said Epstein. “If we do something on the smaller side, it will probably be more for a rental. And if we do nothing, it will be because we couldn’t find anything rational that we could actually do.”

As for as larger possible moves go, we’ve heard the Cubs linked to Cole Hamels of the Phillies at various times. Per Morosi, via Twitter, the team is only on the “periphery” of the Hamels market at present.

Padres “Pushing Hard” To Trade Big-Name Players

The Padres are “pushing hard” to trade big-name stars, executives from other teams tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Obviously, Justin Upton, Will Venable and Ian Kennedy are clear trade candidates, since those players are due to become free agents after the season. But James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Craig Kimbrel, who all are controlled beyond 2015, have also come up very frequently in talks, according to Heyman. Other possibilities include Tyson Ross, who’s due for free agency after 2017, and Joaquin Benoit, whose contract contains a club option for 2015.

This isn’t the first time that any of these players have been mentioned in trade talks, of course, but rival executives now seem to think the Padres could be even more active at the deadline than had previously been anticipated. Given how aggressively GM A.J. Preller remade the team last offseason, it would come as little surprise if he were itching to make another round of big trades in the midst of what’s turned into a disappointing season.

Heyman adds that another potential motivation for the Padres to make trades could be to reduce payroll. (ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote earlier today that the Padres were feeling “pressure” to shed payroll beyond 2015 by making trades.) Via Cot’s Contracts, the Padres had an Opening Day payroll of about $108MM this season, about $17MM more than their 2014 figure. Trading someone like Shields, whose contract is backloaded, would help the Padres reduce their already significant payroll obligations for 2016 and beyond.