James Shields Rumors

Central Notes: Twins, Scherzer, Shields, Samardzija

We've heard a lot today on the Twins' interest in acquiring starting pitching, with two of the market's top arms — Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza — both being mentioned as realistic targets. The club is willing to hand out as many as five years in a deal with a starter, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports via Twitter. Minnesota is definitely interested in both Nolasco and Garza, he adds, though that isn't to say it would necessarily go to five years on either or both. Here's more on the starting pitching in baseball's central divisions:

  • Though he says he understands the business logic that could force him to be traded, Tigers ace (and newly-minted Cy Young winner) Max Scherzer told MLB Network's Jim Bowden (on SiriusXM) that he hopes that does not occur. Scherzer said that he and agent Scott Boras had indicated to Detroit that he was "open to" an extension, but acknowledged that "no actual dialogue has been talked or anything like that." Ultimately, said Scherzer, he will "see how the business game works out and whether or not we go down that path."
  • Meanwhile, Boras acknowledged that GM Dave Dombrowski would likely "invite a number of people to come in and look at all of his diamonds," referring to Detroit's most attractive trade assets. "But in the end I don't think Dave is in the business of anything other than what Mr. Illitch's goal is, and that is to win a world championship," Boras continued. As he further explained, Dombrowski could be discussing Scherzer with other clubs in part to guage his value and to see how those teams value their own players.
  • Royals starter James Shields says that he has not had any talks with his club about an extension, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden reports via Twitter. Shields, who is in the last year of his deal, did say that he is open to exploring a new contract that would keep him in Kansas City. Having dealt recently-anointed AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers to get Shields, one would think that GM Dayton Moore will at least make an attempt to secure his services beyond 2014. 
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer indicated that the club has talked about an extension with starter Jeff Samardzija, David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports via Twitter"We've had discussions with Samardzija because we like him and want to keep him," said Hoyer. "We'll see where things go. We like hearing he wants to be here." Hoyer's comments seem to make an extension for the 28-year-old seem more plausible than we've recently heard. Absent a new deal, Samardzija will hit the open market before the 2016 season.
  • The Cubbies' GM also emphasized that the front office was not going to change its approach to placate anxious fans Kaplan also tweets"We will not hit the fast forward button on our plan simply because people are impatient," Hoyer said. "It will make it worth it in the end."

Royals Exercise Club Option On James Shields

The Royals have exercised their $13.5MM club option on ace James Shields, the team announced on Twitter. Shields' option was one of the easiest calls among the many contract options that are facing Major League teams.

Shields, 32 in December, was acquired along with Wade Davis last offseason in a blockbuster trade that sent top prospect (and 2013 AL Rookie of the Year front-runner) Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Rays.

In his first season in Kansas City, Shields racked up a league-leading 228 2/3 innings, posting a 3.15 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 41.6 percent ground-ball rate. Baseball-Reference pegged his value at 4.1 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs was even more of a fan at 4.5 WAR.

Shields will return to the rotation alongside Jeremy Guthrie, but the Royals will need to offer up some serious coin to keep fellow front-line starter Ervin Santana in the fold. Other internal candidates for their rotation include Davis and top prospects Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. Barring an extension, Shields will be eligible for free agency following the 2014 campaign.


AL East Links: A-Rod, Jeter, Ellsbury, Myers, Jones

According to a "60 Minutes" report, members of Alex Rodriguez's inner circle obtained unredacted Biogenesis documents in February and leaked the names of Ryan Braun, Francisco Cervelli and Danny Valencia (who was later cleared) to Yahoo Sports.  Michael Radutzky of CBS News writes.  Rodriguez talked to the media (including Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York) today and denied leaking the names of any fellow player, particularly his Yankee teammate Cervelli.  The third baseman also warned that more details in the case would be made public in the coming days: 

"You know, I've been a member of this union for 20 years, and it is important for all the guys to understand that my loyalty is to this union and it would never happen, it would never occur and it didn't happen. Let's make one thing clear: For the next seven weeks, it is going to be a very bumpy road. Every day expect a story like this, if not bigger."

Here are some more items from around the AL East…

  • Given the uncertainty of Rodriguez's situation and Derek Jeter's health, the Yankees will need to explore alternatives at third base and shortstop this winter, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Under Sherman's scenario, Jeter would play half his games at shortstop and the rest at first base or as the Yankees' primary DH against right-handers.
  • As least 12 teams project to be suitors for Jacoby Ellsbury this winter, Fangraphs' Paul Swydan writes.  The Red Sox are one of those teams, as "GM Ben Cherington isn’t letting Ellsbury go without a fight," though Swydan notes that the Sox could be in a position crunch in left field (with Jackie Bradley, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes) if they re-sign both Ellsbury and Mike Napoli.
  • The Rays still look like the winners of the Wil Myers/James Shields trade, despite the Royals' recent hot streak, Grantland's Rany Jazayerli opines.
  • The hiring of Buck Showalter was the key move that turned the Orioles from also-rans into contenders, outfielder Adam Jones writes in a guest piece for Buster Olney's column (ESPN Insider subscription required).


AL Notes: Mendonca, Freiman, Shields

Here are some notes from around the American League:

  • The Athletics have released minor league third baseman Tommy Mendonca, tweets Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse.com (hat tip to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser). Originally a 2009 second-round pick of the Rangers, Mendonca was selected by Oakland in this year's minor league Rule 5 draft. Mendonca, who turns 25 tomorrow, struggled in his first Triple-A action last season, when he hit .208/.249/.329 in 251 plate appearances at the upper level of the minors.
  • Meanwhile, the A's seem more inclined to hang onto another Rule 5 pick, Nate Freiman, who the club picked up off of waivers from Houston, writes Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. Manager Bob Melvin likes Freiman's power and patience. The 6'8", 26-year-old first baseman hit safely in his first two big league at-bats, though he has failed to register a base knock in his eleven subsequent plate appearances.
  • The Royals' trade for James Shields was not just about acquiring a rotation anchor, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The club was also hoping to import some of the Rays' clubhouse culture, which Shields has brought to Kansas City along with his solid start on the hill. Meanwhile, MLB.com's Dick Kaegel writes that the club is confident that it has plenty of talent in the pipeline in spite of the haul it gave up in the Shields trade

Rays Say Timing Of Shields-Myers Deal Was Key

by Chuck Myron for MLBTR

In December, the Rays parted with their all-time leader in wins, strikeouts and games started when they sent James Shields to the Royals in a blockbuster trade that brought back a package headlined by touted prospect Wil Myers. Shields, the only pitcher ever to notch a win in the World Series for Tampa Bay, was coming off the best two-season stretch of his seven-year Major League career, compiling a 3.15 ERA and 448 strikeouts in 477 innings across 66 starts. Myers is the jewel of the Rays’ haul, which includes two more minor leaguers who have won Baseball America and MLB.com top-100 billing within the past 18 months. Still, the four players heading to Tampa Bay as part of the deal have a total of two games of Major League experience.

The result is an obvious hole in the Rays rotation, as well as in the clubhouse. But many of the Rays who spoke to MLBTR during Spring Training believe the move wasn’t nearly as jarring as it could have been.

"I think it’s an easier pill to swallow when it happens in the winter, and you get to spring training and you have what you believe is your team," outfielder Sam Fuld said. "And ultimately that group of 25 guys is going to change, obviously, throughout the season, but when you lose a guy of that significance, it helps to do it before the season starts."

Many of Fuld’s teammates concurred, including righty Jeff Niemann, who was battling to inherit the open spot in the rotation that wound up going to Roberto Hernandez. Compared to a midseason trade, "it’s kind of almost like it never happened," Niemann said.

Left-hander Matt Moore, one of the starters who’ll be asked to step up in Shields’ absence, offered a dissenting view. He isn’t so sure the timing of the move made any difference.

"It’s just a part of what happens," Moore said. "Teams trade guys every year, so you know it’s going to happen."

Still, Ben Zobrist believes the players in the Rays clubhouse aren’t the only ones better off because of when the move occurred, pointing to Shields and fellow pitching staff mainstay Wade Davis, who also went to Kansas City in the trade.

"I guess it’s probably easier for them to transition to a different team," Zobrist said. "Every team coming in is going to be new and different, because there’s going to be new guys. So yeah, it’s probably easier on us and them, just knowing that that transition was happening in the offseason instead of right in the middle of the season."

Talk of a Shields trade wasn’t confined to the hot stove period. The Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, Indians, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Angels all showed interest in acquiring Shields in the days leading up to last year’s trade deadline. There were rumors about his availability before the 2011 deadline as well. Right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb, who acknowledged the team wouldn’t have won as many games the past two seasons if Shields weren’t around, is glad the team held off on a trade. Cobb, 25, is nonetheless confident that he and the rest of the team’s young players are ready to compete this year without their one-time ace.

"We’ve got Chris Archer on the verge from the Garza trade, (and) multiple prospects in the minor leagues on the verge of getting ready to help the big league club," Cobb said. "That’s just the way we operate around here. It’s obviously tough to let go of not only James, (but also) Wade, who’s been a great arm for us, both starting and relieving. But it’s one of the things that we have to do to keep competing in the AL East. We have to get rid of the older, more veteran-type guys and bring a new crop of young guys to do the job that they’ve done in the past."

Jeremy Hellickson, another 25-year-old right-handed starter, sees Cobb’s development as a key part of the club’s reloading effort.

"(Shields) was a big part of our rotation last year, but you know, Cobb’s going to step in this year, and he’s going to throw a lot of innings for us, so as good as (Shields) was, and as much as he saved the bullpen and all that, I like the guys we have," Hellickson said.

Of course, the effectiveness of the trade, regardless of its timing, will ultimately be judged by how the newly acquired prospects perform at the big-league level. In particular, Myers, who put up a .286/.333/.429 slash line in 35 spring at-bats before getting sent down to Triple-A, has his Major League teammates anxious to see him return.

"I know he swings it really well," Moore said. "I’ve seen a lot of solid contact and good plate appearances, so I’m excited for him."

"He was impressive," infielder Sean Rodriguez said. "Time will tell with him. He’s definitely got tools, he’s definitely got a good head on his shoulders, so we’ll see."


Royals Notes: Shields, Davis, Tejada

The Royals are looking for their first .500 finish since 2003, and there's optimism that the team could surprise people following a busy offseason. Here are the latest Royals-related notes…

  • Though the Royals were reluctant to part with Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis, they made the trade. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains, club officials including GM Dayton Moore found it easier to approve the deal once they realized their farm system would still be deep.
  • Moore says he learned from his former boss, longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz, that general managers must be prepared to take risks. “If you focus on what you’re giving up, you’ll never make a deal,” Moore told Rosenthal. “It will paralyze you.”
  • The Royals didn't know it at the time, but the Diamondbacks, Rangers and Rays worked on a three-team trade that would have sent prospects to Tampa Bay, Shields and Davis to Arizona and Justin Upton to Texas. The Rays discussed this trade at the same time as they discussed possible deals with the Royals.
  • Rival executives question Moore's decision to trade Myers, one of the game's top position player prospects, following a 72-win season. Yet as right-hander Jeremy Guthrie notes, “you can only stockpile prospects for so long.”
  • The Royals face questions at second base, in the rotation and on the bench, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports. New additions Miguel Tejada and Elliot Johnson were acquired with the expectation that they'd make the team, though that's not absolute.

AL Notes: Lohse, Cano, Granderson, Orioles

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the market for Kyle Lohse and wrote it would be very surprising to see the Royals make a move for him. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star agrees, even if a rash of injuries were to hit their starters, because the Royals are $10MM over their projected break-even point in payroll. Dutton adds James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, and Wade Davis can't pitch poorly enough this spring to lose their spots in the rotation. Elsewhere around the American League:

  • The Yankees will not let the way Alex Rodriguez's ten-year, $275MM contract has panned out affect their negotiations with Robinson Cano, GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio's Ian O'Connor (transcript courtesy of ESPNNewYork.com). "There's only so much you can spend, but we'll look at Robbie as an individual, not as it relates to whatever we're doing with Alex Rodriguez and our commitment and the regression we have experienced with Alex," said Cashman.
  • The Yankees announced Curtis Granderson will miss the next ten weeks with a fractured right forearm after being hit with a pitch during today's Spring Training game. Non-roster invitees Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera plus minor leaguers Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte are the in-house candidates to replace the Yankees' leading home run hitter from a year ago, tweets the YES Network's Jack Curry.
  • If the Yankees do go outside the organization to replace Granderson, they can find a better option toward the end of camp, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com
  • A deal for Alfonso Soriano could make sense for the Yankees and the Cubs have made it clear to the industry they would be willing to pay much of the $36MM owed Soriano for the next two years, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter links).
  • Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com asked if the Yankees turn to Vernon Wells to replace Granderson. If so, the Angels would still have to eat a majority of the $42MM due Wells over the next two years (Twitter links).
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff, he's satisfied with the DH candidates already in camp and will not scour the free agent market. "We’re answering the questions here,” Showalter said. “We’re going to find it right here. We spent a lot of time getting this group in. We’re going to look in our backyard.Wilson Betemit is the main candidate to DH against right-handers while Russ Canzler and Danny Valencia are the favorites against left-handers. Dubroff also sees Nolan Reimold in the mix as well as regulars whom Showalter wants to give a breather.

 


Tigers Pursued James Shields

The Tigers seriously pursued James Shields before the Royals acquired him, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com report (Twitter link). Earlier today in a Twitter chat with fans Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said the team is comfortable relying on Drew Smyly in the fifth rotation spot for 2013.

The Tigers offered outfielder Avisail Garcia and other prospects, Knobler reports. Though the Rays like Garcia, they preferred the Royals' offer, which included top prospect Wil Myers.

Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello project as the Tigers' top four starters for 2013. The club has also had interest in bringing back free agent right-hander Anibal Sanchez. As Jason Beck of MLB.com explained today, the team's interest in keeping Sanchez reaches a decisive point now that Zack Greinke has agreed to terms.

Dombrowski also said his top priority would be to find “the correct right handed bat for the outfield” (all Twitter links). Though it’d be helpful for the Tigers to find someone whose skills complement the left-handed hitting Andy Dirks, it’s noteworthy that Dombrowski didn’t mention pitching. He did say the Tigers are open to adding another left-hander to the bullpen. However, when it comes to late inning relief, the Tigers sound confident in prospect Bruce Rondon. “He is a rare talent that I feel has a chance to close for us this year,” Dombrowski said.


Reaction To Rays-Royals Trade

The Royals continued adding to their rotation last night, acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays. It cost them the game’s top prospect, outfielder Wil Myers, and three others: right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard. Here’s some reaction to the deal from around MLB…

  • In a piece for Grantland, Rany Jazayerli writes that the Royals almost got fair value for Myers, but the addition of three more prospects turns the trade into highway robbery for the Rays. He goes on to say that in shoving all his chips into the pot, Moore has done the same with his job security, possibly sacrificing the future for an illusory present.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore is "furious" over critiques insinuating that his motivation to make the deal was simply to preserve his job, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. In particular, Nightengale writes that Moore was livid over the reaction of ESPN's Keith Law (link included in earlier updates below). Moore calls any such allegations "very, very insulting."
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis writes that Myers instantly becomes the Rays' top prospect, and that Odorizzi slots in at No. 5 between Hak-Ju Lee and Alex Colome. Montgomery fits into the mid-teens, and Leonard would rank in the 20-30 range. The trade essentially boils down to Myers-for-Shields, in Callis' mind, as Odorizzi is similar to Davis but at an earlier stage while Montgomery and Leonard are lottery tickets. Because of that, he doesn't think it's a terrible deal for the Royals.

Earlier reactions:

  • One NL general manager called the trade "bold on both sides," ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports. Some evaluators prefer the deal for the Royals, while others believe the Rays did better. An AL GM told Crasnick both teams did well. "I don't get all the online angst towards Kansas City," the GM added.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has comments from many of the players involved in the deal. Odorizzi said he "definitely" feels ready for the MLB level, Topkin reports.
  • ESPN.com's Jayson Stark points out that Myers is the first person to be named Baseball America's minor league player of the year and be traded before playing an MLB game for the organization with which he won the award.
  • Shields told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that he'd be open to an extension of the Royals wanted to discuss one. "No doubt about it," Shields said (Twitter link).
  • Approximately 32,000 MLBTR readers voted on the deal and nearly half believe the Rays won. Another 32% say both teams won the deal and 17% say the Royals won.
  • It would have taken Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler for the Mets to obtain a similar package to the one the Rays obtained, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (on Twitter). Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog.com first reported this news four days ago.
  • Though the trade reflects a sense of urgency from the Royals, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star doesn't get the sense that GM Dayton Moore is on the hot seat (Twitter link).
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggests the Rays will delay Myers' arrival at the MLB level to ensure he doesn't obtain a full year of service time in 2013. It's also possible that the Rays could look to extend the promising outfielder, Olney suggests. I agree with both of Olney's point here. There's no way the Rays can allow Myers to get a full year of service in 2013.
  • Six pro scouts don't consider the trade one-sided, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America reports. The Royals don't deserve the criticism being directed their way, the scouts told Baseball America.
  • Shields will obtain a $750K trade bonus as part of the deal, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
  • One GM told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that "Myers is no slam dunk" and added that this is "far from a lopsided deal." Rosenthal suggests teams like the Royals can too often get fixated on their prospects and pass on opportunities to compete.
  • The Royals tried to trade Myers for Shields straight up, but the Rays said no, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes (Twitter links). The Royals also tried trading Myers to Oakland for Brett Anderson only to be turned down, Passan writes.
  • In Passan's view Royals general manager Dayton Moore made a desperate trade that will define his tenure as GM in Kansas City. Still, Passan writes, it's hard to blame the Royals for attempting to win now.
  • The Tigers weren't happy to see the Royals acquire Shields, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. Shields is a difference maker who will make the Royals better, Knobler writes.
  • The Rangers had hoped to add Zack Greinke or Shields this winter, but lost out on both this past weekend, Knobler reports (on Twitter).
  • Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star won't be surprised if the Royals seek a low-cost outfielder in free agency (Twitter link). After trading Myers, the club might have interest in spending $1MM or less on a rebound candidate.
  • It's an outstanding day for Rays fans, ESPN.com's Keith Law writes (Insider only). Conversely, this could be the deal that brings Moore's time in Kansas City to an end in Law's view.
  • My thoughts: the Rays were justified in trading Shields and Davis for Myers and the other prospects because they obtained more long-term value. While the Royals surrendered a lot, they addressed their most pressing weakness — starting pitching — in a meaningful way and increased their chances of competing in 2013. The Royals have much more rotation depth than they did two months ago. Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, Shields and Davis make the Kansas City staff better. Yet you can make the case that they overpaid every time they acquired a new arm.

Royals To Acquire James Shields, Wade Davis

James Shields - Rays (PW)

The Royals have bolstered their starting rotation for 2013 thanks to the addition of two quality pitchers. Kansas City has agreed to acquire right-hander James Shields, right-hander Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash from Tampa Bay in exchange for outfielder Wil Myersright-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard, according to a team release.

Kansas City's continued commitment to acquiring veteran pitching talent as seen with Shields and Davis has the Royals with their eyes on competing as soon as 2013. Shields, soon to turn 31, brings a career 87-73 record and 3.89 ERA to the Midwest after finishing third in the AL Cy Young vote for the 2011 season. Beyond his stats, Shields brings leadership to the Royals clubhouse after mentoring young pitchers in Tampa Bay. Davis, 27 and fresh off his first season in the bullpen, enjoyed success with the Rays in 2012. With an ERA of 2.43 and his strikeout total of 87, Davis' combination for a reliever could only be matched by Angels right-hander Ernesto Frieri. As a starter, Davis has posted a 4.22 ERA in 64 starts. 

Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the organization will have Shields under team control through the 2014 season ('14 as a team option) and Davis potentially remaining blue and white through 2017 (with '16 and '17 as team options) (via Twitter). The duo will join a starting rotation already home to Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin SantanaBruce Chen and Luke Hochevar.

For the Rays, blessed with more than enough pitching to continue to call their rotation an asset, the addition of Myers provides Tampa Bay with another building block to complement their star player in Evan Longoria. Myers, who turns 22 on Monday, enters the 2013 season as the reigning 2012 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .304/.378/.554 in 99 games this season at Triple-A Omaha.

Beyond Myers, the Rays also acquired three prospects from the Royals who all check in at 23 years old or younger. Odorizzi, arguably the most talented of the bunch, took home his team's Pitcher of the Year award this past season while playing with Myers. The right-hander pitched to a 2.93 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over the course of 107.1 innings. He made his Major League debut in September where he had the opportunity to make two starts for the Royals.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first broke the details of the trade (via Twitter). Photo courtesy of US Presswire.