James Shields Rumors

Quick Hits: Tanaka, Sabathia, Royals, Cuba, Extensions

Yankees starters Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia are generating positive reports, team pitching coach Larry Rothschild tells Mark Didtler of the Associated Press (via the LoHud Yankees Blog). Tanaka has “felt good” while going through a normal winter progression, says Rothschild. The pair’s progress this spring will be critical for the Yankees. If Tanaka’s partially torn UCL or Sabathia’s balky knee are problematic, the club would seem a prime candidate to add pitching.

  • In the final analysis, the Royals‘ run with James Shields was an example of the team “beating the system,” according to Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. By selling high on Wil Myers to add Shields, Kansas City added the arm it needed before cashing him in for a new first-round pick through the qualifying offer system.
  • The Red Sox and Orioles have at least begun looking into the idea of playing a spring game in Cuba this year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. While it appears unlikely that will happen in such short order, it certainly hints at how quickly things could move in that arena.
  • Signing players to big extensions is obviously risky, and rarely works out in the way that many expect when a deal is struck. But that does not mean that they fail to deliver good value, or that teams are irrational in reaching them, Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus writes.

More Reactions To The James Shields Signing

We already took a look at one group of opinions and analysis coming out of the Padres’ signing of James Shields, but the reactions keep coming. Here’s more:

  • The Shields camp made a strategic error by shooting too high, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes. After initially asking for a contract in the realm of five to six years at $120MM to $125MM, his team did not move down off that ask soon enough in the wake of Jon Lester‘s signing, says Passan. I do think it worth adding that four years and $75MM at a preferred geographical spot is far from a terrible downside scenario — even in the context of the modern free agent world — and that ultimate price could well have justified an aggressive strategy, depending upon Shields’s own particular preferences and risk tolerance.
  • Quality, durable arms of the relatively recent past provide at least some insight into how Shields might produce over the term of his deal, as Ben Lindbergh of Grantland writes. Among pitchers with age 29-32 seasons similar to those Shields just put up, the outcomes over the next four years ranged from 900+ innings of Greg Maddux to less than 300 frames of Frank Viola. On the whole, the (rather small) group lost one-third of its total innings while putting up less than half the total wins above replacement as against the previous four-year run. Though there is obviously plenty of risk, Lindbergh concludes that, in Shields’s case at least, it seems a reasonable-enough outlook to warrant the commitment.
  • San Diego has a legitimate abundance of starting pitching and could use it to make a trade, now or over the summer, opines ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider post). That flexibility is as important as the upgrade that Shields represents, in Law’s view. Of course, bolstering the MLB roster through trade is not the only hypothetical outcome, and Padres GM A.J. Preller may face an even sterner challenge if the team he has compiled fails to compete, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes.
  • That the Cubs made a legitimate, late run at Shields is revealing, ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers writes. It shows that the team has cash to spend, that Shields likely would have been pursued harder if Chicago hadn’t landed Lester, and that the front office is prepared to act boldly when opportunity arises.
  • The Dodgers considered a run at Shields but were never going to approach the price range that Shields ultimately commanded, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Los Angeles “was looking for something more cost effective,” says Olney.

Reactions To And Fallout From The James Shields Signing

The James Shields saga has finally drawn to a close, with the right-hander agreeing to a four-year deal to pitch near his southern California home as a member of the vastly reshaped Padres. Shields will reportedly take home $75MM, and his contract also contains a club option. Shields rumors have dominated the past week, with multiple teams rumored to be involved. Here are some reactions from around the baseball world as well as some details on other offers that Shields had available…

  • Shields did not take the best offer that was presented to him, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). One team made the right-hander a four-year, $80MM contract offer. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune backs that up (also on Twitter) by noting that the Padres’ offer was “one of the highest,” adding that he had heard Shields was willing to take a small discount to pitch in San Diego.
  • That team wasn’t the Cubs, who topped out at three years and a vesting option, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Chicago wasn’t willing to guarantee Shields a contract in the mid-$70MM range after spending $175MM on Jon Lester and Jason Hammel already this offseason.
  • The Marlins also offered Shields a three-year pact and a vesting option, Heyman tweets.
  • The Marlins realized they had to bow out on Saturday afternoon once the bidding exceeded $70MM, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter links). Miami was concerned not only with blowing up its future payroll but also with forfeiting the No. 12 pick in the draft — the top unprotected pick this year. The Padres, of course surrendered the very next pick in the draft, as they’d been slotted 13th overall. Frisaro adds that Shields monitored the Marlins all winter and was impressed by their direction, but the Padres simply made a stronger offer.
  • Olney gets a different sense of the Marlins’ level of involvement, as he tweets that some are of the belief that the Marlins actually made the highest offer to Shields.
  • The Cubs‘ guarantee was around $60MM, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Sherman adds that Shields’ camp pursued the Dodgers far more than the team pursued him, and the Blue Jays hadn’t spoken to Shields in about two weeks when he agreed to terms.
  • Also from Sherman’s piece, he opines that while Shields is unquestionably a financial risk — the Friars will be paying him and Kemp roughly $36MM per year beginning in 2016 (the $18MM received from the Dodgers offsets much of the 2015 cost) — he was too good of a deal to pass up. Shields was still cheaper, financially speaking, than Cole Hamels, and he also didn’t cost the prospects Hamels would have required. He also provides leadership and protects them somewhat when Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner hit the open market. And, with Kennedy, Carlos Quentin, Justin Upton, Will Venable, Joaquin Benoit, Cory Luebke, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson all potentially off the books next winter, the team has some financial flexibility.
  • Fangraphs’ Mike Petriello writes that while the addition of Shields is an unequivocal boost to the Padres’ postseason hopes, their downfall very well could be a patchwork group of infielders. The Padres’ infield projects at just 5.6 WAR, based on the Steamer projection system, and Petriello looks at the past five seasons’ worth of data to see the correlation between infield WAR and overall wins by a team. Unsurprisingly, the outlook is bleak, with only the 2012 Orioles and A’s receiving a lower WAR contribution and still reaching the playoffs. Of course, as Petriello notes, there’s reason to be optimistic for a rebound from Jedd Gyorko, and there’s still some upside in Yonder Alonso and Will Middlebrooks. The shortstop tandem of Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes is likely to be a black hole offensively, however.
  • Peter Gammons is a bit skeptical of the Padres’ win-now tactics (Twitter links). As Gammons points out, while the team has created some buzz and bolstered its 2015 hopes, by 2017 they’ll have a 32-year-old Matt Kemp and 36-year-old Shields earning significant salaries, and they’ve either traded away their recent first-round picks or watched them flame out. The Padres have just two of their first rounders from 2009-14 still in the system in Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg, and they now don’t have a first-rounder in 2015. Trea Turner and Joe Ross were in the Wil Myers trade, Max Fried was used in the Justin Upton trade, Karsten Whitson didn’t sign (Spangenberg was selected as compensation the following year) and Donavan Tate was out of baseball last season. The team does still have some supplemental first-rounders in the system, while seventh-rounder Matt Wisler and second-rounder Austin Hedges have become Top 100 prospects.
  • Shields provides the Padres with some surprisingly much-needed innings, write Mark Simon and Justin Havens of ESPN. Though the Friars are typically thought of as having a strong pitching staff, their rotation has ranked 22nd or 23rd in innings in each of the past three seasons.

A’s Notes: Shields, Doolittle, Olivera, Moncada

The A’s hosted their annual FanFest today with a sellout crowd of over 15,000. Here are the highlights:

  • The A’s experienced plenty of turnover this offseason (nine trades involving 27 players) and the holdovers are starting to see the method in GM Billy Beane’s madness. “Initially when the trades are going on, you’re going, ‘Come on, seriously? Another All-Star caliber player is leaving us?’” said Coco Crisp (as quoted by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). “But as things progressed, I started to see things come together, and I understand it from a business standpoint and for the future. Some of the players we got have the potential to be great players and we have another team out to prove ourselves. I think it’s going to work out good.
  • Also from Slusser, Beane has a plan if his offseason maneuvers don’t work. “If one of these (trades) doesn’t work, we’ll make another one because that’s what we do. We’re not going to wait around.
  • Beane apparently isn’t waiting around for James Shields. Slusser has heard rumblings the A’s might be one of the teams still in play for Shields, but she has been assured they are not.
  • MLB.com’s Jane Lee updated the status of a trio of injured pitchers in a pair of reports. Sean Doolittle received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to alleviate inflammation and irritation in his left shoulder. “Everything so far has gone really smoothly,” Doolittle said. “We’re optimistic, but we haven’t set a timetable because, based on what the doctors and trainers have said, every issue is kind of different. With PRP, it’s all about how your body reacts to it.” Doolittle has entered the beginning stages of a strengthening program, but manager Bob Melvin admits there is a good chance his closer will miss the early part of the season.
  • A’s Assistant GM David Forst and Melvin both reiterated the probable timetable for starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin to return is June, barring any setbacks from their Tommy John surgeries.
  • Slusser reports the A’s continue to monitor Cuban infielders Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera, but doubts the team has the payroll for Moncada having never spent more than $66MM on a player and does not see Olivera receiving an offer greater than the four-year, $36MM deal signed by Yoenis Cespedes.

James Shields’ Decision Expected “Soon”

FEBRUARY 8TH, 7:52pm: The Padres’ offer to Shields four years and between $72-80MM, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

11:46am: People around baseball think it will wind up somewhere in the $72-$75MM range across four years, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.  The Cubs are still a long shot, according to Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM (on Twitter).

10:45am: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter) expects Shields’ deal to be a four-year deal worth around $72-$80MM.

10:32am: Depending on the number of years, Shields, could sign for an annual average value of a little less than $20MM, according to Lin.

10:10am: The Cubs are seen as the major outside threat as things appear headed toward a resolution between Shields and the Padres, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Shields isn’t expected to come close to early $100MM projections and at this late juncture, baseball people say they believe he would do well to get anywhere close to $20MM per year.  It is believed multiple teams have showed a willingness to extend a three-year offer, and one interested GM said agent Page Odle suggested he had at least one four-year offer.

9:40am: A Padres source that spoke with Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter) expressed confidence that San Diego sign Shields.

9:20am: Shields’ decision could come either today (Sunday) or Monday, according to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego (via Twitter).  Lin hears that Shields was informed early on Saturday that the Padres has made their final offer.  Lin adds (link) that he’d be surprised if another team comes in and steals him away.

FEBRUARY 7TH, 7:04pm: Shields never rejected a five-year, $110 million offer, tweets Nightengale. While not pertinent to the present situation, it’s an interesting revelation. Earlier in the offseason, it was rumored that such an offer had been extended. When Shields didn’t sign, it was widely assumed the deal was rejected.

6:32pm: The outcome of the Padres offer is expected to be known within 24 hours, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

4:20pm: It’s not known which teams remain involved in the bidding, but one involved club was told that a decision is expected soon, tweets Nightengale.

4:07pm: The Padres “badly” want Shields and remain the favorites, but they’re being told that there are other teams still heavily involved in the bidding, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. Meanwhile, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that there’s no “impasse” between the two sides, but rather that Shields simply must decide whether or not to accept San Diego’s “last and final offer.”

2:43pm: The Padres and Shields are currently “at an impasse” after several hours of negotiations, tweets Miller. The ball is Shields’ court at this point, he adds.

1:31pm: The Padres are indeed the favorites to sign Shields, “if not a lock already,” reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (on Twitter). Frisaro covers another team, the Marlins, who have been linked to Shields throughout the offseason.

11:15am: Talks between the Padres and James Shields “have heated up and are gaining momentum,” according to Scott Miller of FOX Sports San Diego/Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Shields, a native of Santa Clarita, Calif. (just 150 miles from San Diego), very much likes the idea of pitching in San Diego, Miller adds.

Last night, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that nothing was imminent between the two sides at this point, though he added that things could change quickly. Within his piece, Lin noted that Cole Hamels (a San Diego native himself) could be the team’s top target, but no club had yet come close to matching an asking price that many clubs believe to be exorbitant.

Rumors have been connecting the Padres and Shields for quite some time now. Adding an arm of his caliber to an already-strong rotation would be the icing of the cake, so to speak, on what has been a nearly unfathomably active offseason for first-year general manager A.J. Preller. The former Rangers executive was named GM in August and set out to transform the Padres’ low-scoring offense not with a lengthy rebuild, but by using his farm system to acquire several win-now bats. San Diego has added Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks this winter as well as relievers Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer while keeping the big league roster largely intact. The most notable subtractions from last year’s 25-man roster are Seth Smith, Yasmani Grandal and Jesse Hahn.

Shields, the prize of the remaining crop of free agents, is reportedly expected to make a decision on a destination before the weekend is complete. If signed, he’d join Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy atop a strong group of starters and further the Friars’ chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Marlins Notes: Shields, Haren, Fernandez

The latest out of Miami..

  • When asked if he’s in on James Shields, Marlins GM Dan Jennings told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) “you never know if you’re still in it or not in it until someone signs him.”  At present, however, it would seem that the Marlins are on the outside looking in with the Padres viewed as the favorites and the Cubs still lurking.
  • Jennings added, “We have had internal discussions about [Shields] and all other free agents… we’ll see in the next few days where he goes,” (via MLB Network Radio on Twitter).
  • Jennings told Bowden (on Twitter) that Dan Haren is preparing for Spring Training and looking forward to being a member of the Marlins.  Haren reportedly has been hoping for a trade that would keep him closer to his family in California.  At one time, Haren seemed to be considering retirement over spending the season in Miami.
  • Jennings said that the timetable for Jose Fernandez to take the mound is between June 15th and July 15th (via Bowden on Twitter).
  • Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (on Twitter) opines that the Marlins’ next step should be to try to sign Rafael Soriano or Francisco Rodriguez on the cheap.  When asked by Bowden (link) about possible interest in the relievers, Jennings didn’t tip his hat much, saying that he’s “always looking to add.”  Jennings added that he’s exploring potentially bringing “one or two more guys to camp,” according to MLB Network Radio (on Twitter).

East Notes: Jaso, Yankees, Flores

This year will mark the first Spring Training of John Jaso‘s career where he won’t be working out as a catcher, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “It’s definitely going to be different,” says Jaso. “I have no idea. The Big Papi program? I don’t know. … This will be kind of the first time for me.” Topkin notes that the Rays could use Jaso at catcher if there’s an emergency, but he’ll spend most of the season at DH after having concussion issues in each of the last two seasons. The Rays acquired Jaso and two prospects from the Athletics in the Ben Zobrist deal last month, and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said at the time that he wanted to put Jaso “in the best position to succeed.” Potentially preventing injury by moving Jaso out from behind the plate would certainly help with that. The Rays could also use Jaso at first or in the outfield. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • GM Brian Cashman said on WFAN Friday that the Yankees had finished their “heavy lifting” this offseason, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com notes. Previous reporting had indicated that the Yankees might pursue in James Shields, but Cashman’s comments indicate that isn’t the case. As Kuty suggests, the idea that the Yankees won’t be a top bidder for Shields is consistent with their approach to the offseason so far — they re-signed Chase Headley and added Andrew Miller, but they’ve otherwise steered clear of top free agents after adding Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran last offseason.
  • Wilmer Flores isn’t listening to criticism about the Mets’ shortstop situation, Matt Ehalt of the Record writes. The Mets didn’t add a shortstop this winter and are heading into the spring with Flores as their likely starter, leading to plenty of second-guessing from commentators and fans. “People doubt a lot of people,” says Flores. “I’m not worried about that. I’m just going to go out and play.” Flores hit .251/.286/.378 last season, but he’s hit well in the high minors, and the Mets like his offensive potential. His defense remains open to question, although UZR has liked his glove work in small sample sizes in his first two partial seasons in the Majors. As Mike Petriello wrote for Fangraphs last month, concerns about the Mets’ shortstop situation might be somewhat misplaced. The position is weak throughout the Majors, and Steamer projects Flores will be the 19th most valuable shortstop by WAR in the big leagues in 2015, ahead of some of the top options available this offseason, like Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew.

James Shields Rumors: Friday

The latest reports on the James Shields front from Thursday had the Padres as the likely favorites to sign the right-hander, with the Cubs and Blue Jays on the periphery of the talks. Shields is reportedly expected to come to a decision by the time this weekend comes to a close, so resolution to his lengthy free agency saga could be nigh. Here’s the latest on the former Royals righty…

  • Whether or not the Padres are the favorites to sign Shields, they have not spoken with his camp in over 24 hours, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Agreement does not appear imminent, per the report, though San Diego has discussed numbers with Shields.

Earlier Updates

  • Cubs manager Joe Maddon tells MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) that club president of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke with him about the prospect of signing the righty. Those comments certainly confirm prior reports that the team has had some internal consideration of the possibility, though of course it remains unclear exactly what level of interest Chicago has (and at what price it might bite).
  • Astros owner Jim Crane told Jose De Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle that he doesn’t envision his team signing Shields. Some have speculated that Houston could be a sleeper for Shields, with the fruits of their rebuilding efforts on the brink of Major League contribution. However, Crane cited the lack of TV revenue from 2014 and Shields’ age as factors. “With the (local) TV money not coming in last year, that really hurt. That was over $50 million that we did not receive,” said Crane, who also added that he’s not sure the team is quite ready to begin making four-year investments. He did note that the Astros would have to consider the move “if we got a good deal.”
  • There’s a growing sense among those involved in Shields talks that he will end up with the Padres, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
  • The Padres are believed to have a max payroll of about $105MM in 2015, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). As such, Lin feels that an addition of Shields is very possible for the Friars. San Diego currently projects to have a payroll around $84MM, thanks to the $18MM of Matt Kemp‘s 2015 salary that will be picked up by the Dodgers.

James Shields Rumors: Thursday

The market for James Shields is picking up steam, to say the least, with multiple reports indicating that he could decide upon a team before this weekend comes to a close. As of yesterday, the Marlins were still said to be in talks for Shields, with the Cubs “kicking the tires.” The Padres were indirectly connected to Shields, as reports had them seeking a top-end starter, though Shields was not mentioned by name.

Here are today’s Shields-related items…

  • “The Padres…have to be considered favorites for” Shields, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.  The fact that Shields lives in San Diego could indeed give the Padres the edge, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.
  • While the Padres are indeed “among the favorites” for Shields, Heyman reports that “a few other teams, including at least one surprise” are in contact with Shields’ camp.  A person connected to the Cubs tells Heyman that Chicago could get involved in Shields’ market if his price falls significantly; the Cubs’ interest in Shields was first reported yesterday.
  • The Blue Jays are “kicking the tires” on Shields, which is a surprise to Heyman given their payroll limitations.  This isn’t the first time Toronto has been linked to Shields, though it remains to be seen if the Jays can create the financial space to sign Shields even at a lowered price tag.

Earlier Updates

  • The Dodgers are currently focused on international stars Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera and not Shields, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Many have speculated that the Dodgers could make a play based not only on their deep pockets but on the presence of former Rays GM Andrew Friedman atop the new L.A. baseball operations department.
  • Multiple sources have told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that they do not expect the Marlins to sign Shields. One source characterized the chances as “zero percent.” For what it’s worth, others have also reported the chances as “zero,” only to have rumors of talks between the two sides resurface. Ultimately, however, it seems that the Fish are long shots. Shields’ reported desire to play for a team on the West Coast and the Marlins’ limited payroll are both detrimental factors.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been told by sources in recent weeks that the Cardinals “are not a team with interest.” As Goold outlines, the Cardinals may be wary not only of forfeiting a draft pick but of forfeiting the portion of their draft bonus pool that would go along with it. Based on last year’s slot figures, signing Shields would cost St. Louis 28.3 percent of its bonus pool.

James Shields Rumors: Wednesday

We learned last night that the market for James Shields was taking shape, with multiple offers on the table and an expectation that the righty would be signed by the end of the week. Today figures to deliver plenty more reporting on the best remaining free agent, and we’ll keep tabs on it here.

  • The Cubs have entered the fray and are “kicking the tires” on Shields, reports David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. Kaplan, too, hears that Shields is expected to choose a team by the end of the week, and the Cubs are among those he is considering. Kaplan tweets that the Cubs have been waiting to see where the Shields market ended up before getting too involved. He adds that Shields has interest in Chicago, with his relationship with manager Joe Maddon being a factor.

Earlier Updates

  • Shields’s agent, Page Odle, has indicated to some clubs that his client is “getting close to resolution,” according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (via Twitter).
  • While it remains unclear exactly where they stand, the Marlins “remain in talks” involving Shields, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. As he writes, the club is more interested in a three-year deal than in going to four, with its pursuit complicated by payroll projections and the undecided situation of Dan Haren.
  • If Miami is in, several other at-least-hypothetical landing spots appear to be out: The Cardinals prefer to plug Carlos Martinez in the rotation rather than signing Shields, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Rangers have not modified their intentions to avoid major free agent pitching investments, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (via Twitter). And the always-unpredictable Athletics are not involved, per a tweet from Heyman.
  • Two more west coast teams, the Giants and Angels, are also not currently in the running, Heyman reports (Twitter links). San Francisco had been in conversations in the four-year, $80MM range with Shields earlier in the offseason, per an Olney tweet, but ended up pursuing (and signing) Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong when they were rebuffed.