James Shields Rumors

James Shields Expected To Get Nine-Figure Deal

James Shields is expected to get at least five years and $100MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Two executives tell Rosenthal that Shields already has a $110MM offer in hand. As Rosenthal notes, however, rumors of an $110MM offer don’t mean that Shields will ultimately sign for that much or more. For example, there were rumors of a $65MM offer for Chase Headley, who ultimately settled for less from the Yankees.

It’s still not clear who will sign Shields. The Marlins and Diamondbacks feel Shields is out of their price range, Rosenthal writes, and the Giants, Padres and Red Sox don’t currently seem highly motivated, either. And the Royals, who have spent on several players already this offseason, don’t appear likely to re-sign Shields. It’s possible that one or more of those teams has more interest than it’s letting on, however. Rosenthal also suggests the Tigers, Yankees and Angels as possibilities, although Shields hasn’t been closely connected to any of those teams.

Mark Polishuk recently polled MLBTR readers about Shields’ likely destination, and the results reflect the uncertainty that seems to exist throughout the industry. Less than 20% of you feel the Giants will sign Shields, followed by the Red Sox, Yankees, and “Other,” which got over 10% of the vote, even with 13 teams in the poll.


Cafardo On Shields, Zobrist, Uggla, Papelbon, Aoki

The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.

In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:

  • It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
  • The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
  • Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
  • Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
  • Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.

 


Quick Hits: Johnson, A’s, Shields

White Sox second base prospect Micah Johnson will have a chance to earn a starting job this spring, but he has bigger plans for his baseball career, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Johnson has his eyes on an eventual GM job when his playing career is concluded. He’s continued his studies while in the minors and plans to attend law school after his playing career is complete. Current GM Rick Hahn agrees that Johnson could fit in as a manager or GM. Per Hahn, “Micah is one of those guys who has that high off-the-field potential.”

  • The A’s won’t become a surprise contender in the bidding for Max Scherzer or James Shields, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com. We all know about the payroll constraints facing Oakland. As Lee points out, the A’s have a solid rotation in place as it is, with Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir manning the front lines.
  • Even if the A’s had reached the World Series, Lee thinks we would have seen GM Billy Beane complete many of the same offseason trades. Beane “sensed the club was regressing” when he went out to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester. With eight free agents outgoing, there was an overarching need to restock.
  • The Red Sox met with free agent starter James Shields during the winter meetings, but no substantive talks have occurred, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN. While there’s an obvious use for a front line starter in Boston, the club is clearly taking its time feeling out the market. The Sox are expected to be competitive in the AL East, but an ace could put them over the top.


West Notes: Hamilton, Rosario, Mariners

The Angels are likely to trade Josh Hamilton before his contract expires, but not before letting him play out at least part of the 2015 season, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Given Hamilton’s production (.263/.331/.414 last year) and contract, his value can’t slip much further, so the Angels might as well wait to see if they can recoup some of that value with a rebound season, Gonzalez suggests. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Hamilton has a full no-trade clause. The Angels reportedly discussed potential Hamilton deals with the Rangers and Padres this offseason, although those talks did not appear particularly likely to result in a trade. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • After reaching a deal with Nick Hundley last week, the Rockies could trade Wilin Rosario, or they could keep him and go with three catchers (Hundley, Rosario and Michael McKenry), MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. Many teams have two catchers but are reluctant to use the backup to pinch-hit, so having three would allow the Rockies to use their spare catchers more liberally. Also, they could have Rosario pick up playing time at first base or in the outfield. Harding adds that the Rockies have “checked in withMax Scherzer and James Shields this offseason, although, unsurprisingly, they’re not likely to sign either one, and they’ll likely acquire a veteran to eat innings instead.
  • Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should form a solid platoon for the Mariners, David Golebiewski writes for GammonsDaily.com. Neither one projects to be anything special if he plays every day, but Ruggiano has a .925 OPS against lefties in the last three seasons, while Smith has an .825 OPS against righties. Those are very strong numbers (even though we should probably expect regression for Ruggiano, and it’s impossible to completely hide any batter from same-handed pitching), and the Mariners should get effective production from right field while they wait for a long-term starter to come along.

East Notes: Yankees, Braves, Howard

The Yankees are making the right moves to build their bullpen by adding inexpensive depth, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Chasen Shreve, acquired from the Braves in the Manny Banuelos deal, gives the Yankees another hard-throwing lefty to go with Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson, and David Carpenter, the Yankees’ other acquisition in that deal, should be tough on righties. Miller, of course, was very expensive, but he was one of baseball’s best relievers last season. The Braves, meanwhile, got a project in Banuelos, and they could try to continue developing him as a starter, hoping his velocity rebounds after missing most of 2012 and all of 2013 due to injury. Here are more notes from the East divisions.


Giants Out On Shields, Scherzer; Pursuing Zobrist

The Giants are out of the hunt for free agent starter James Shields, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). San Francisco never was in on Max Scherzer, and that remains the case, per the report.

But while an impact free agent arm is not in the offing, the team is still “trying to work a deal” to land outstanding utilityman Ben Zobrist from the Rays. A recent report from Peter Gammons had suggested that match on the veteran, who could potentially plug in at left field for the Giants while serving as a key depth piece throughout the infield. Always a potential piece of trade bait, the pending free agent became a more obvious target when Tampa agreed to terms with Asdrubal Cabrera.

GM Brian Sabean said recently that his organization has limited financial flexibility after re-signing Jake Peavy and Sergio Romo. It appeared at that time that the club would be choosing between a significant addition in the outfield against one in the rotation, and today’s report suggests that San Francisco is perhaps more focused on its lineup.

It would, perhaps, be foolish at this point to rule out entirely the possibility of more aggressive spending given the team’s recent World Series windfall. But the club already appears set to exceed last year’s payroll, and an attempt at two significant additions would bring it well past historical levels, if not even within sight of the luxury tax line.


Poll: Who Will Sign James Shields?

With Jon Lester now a Chicago Cub and Max Scherzer patiently waiting out his market, that leaves James Shields as the best available free agent starter who could conceivably sign in the near future.  Shields’ market, as you’d expect, was impacted by his two fellow starters, as it was theorized that teams who missed out on either of those two aces (particularly Lester) would turn to Shields as a backup plan.  Secondly, while only a limited number of teams could afford Scherzer or Lester, several more teams could conceivably afford the five-year, $95MM deal that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected it would take to land Shields.

Here’s the breakdown of recent Shields-related rumors…

Giants: They were reportedly focused on the righty at the end of the Winter Meetings, with “exit polls” (per Peter Gammons) from those around the Meetings predicting Shields would sign with San Francisco.  The Giants have already re-signed Jake Peavy, though a one-two punch of Shields and Madison Bumgarner would do a lot to boost a rotation that contains some question marks given Tim Hudson‘s second-half struggles, Matt Cain‘s health and Tim Lincecum‘s effectiveness.

Red Sox: While Boston has already added Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson to join Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly in the rotation, Shields would give the Sox a clear-cut ace. But the Red Sox have determined that his tendency to allow flyballs to left-center make him a poor fit for Fenway Park, as Gammons tweets.

Marlins: Miami was interested in Shields in November, though with Mat Latos now in the fold, the Marlins may have addressed their need for a veteran starter.

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy look to be L.A.’s top four, with Brett Anderson in line for the fifth spot if healthy.  Since Greinke can opt out of his contract next winter, the Dodgers could see Shields as a long-term rotation answer if Greinke departs.  The Winter Meetings rumor mill linked Shields to the Dodgers, though GM Farhan Zaidi recently said the team was only looking for depth starters at this point.

Royals: It has been widely assumed that Kansas City would let Shields go in free agency, though back in October, the team was at least willing to take a fair crack at re-signing him.  Since the Royals have since been spending on Edinson Volquez, Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales, re-signing Shields would now require a significant payroll increase.  All things considered, it seems like the Royals will indeed end up thanking Shields for the memories and collecting a draft pick as compensation for his signing elsewhere.

Other teams have also been connected to Shields this offseason, though given his price tag, the likes of the Diamondbacks or Rangers seem like longshot candidates.  The Yankees were reportedly unlikely to pursue Shields, Lester or Scherzer this winter, though you can never really count the Bombers out of a race for a major free agent, especially given the injury issues in the Yankees’ rotation.

It’s also possible the ever-popular mystery team could jump into the mix.  Looking at another recent MLBTR Poll about Scherzer’s 2015 destination, some of the scenarios Zach Links posits about Scherzer could also apply to Shields.  Maybe the Angels or Blue Jays could eschew their spending limits to sign Shields, or perhaps the “Nationals sign Scherzer then trade Jordan Zimmermann” theory could instead see Shields land in Washington, or maybe the Tigers would truly be willing to close the door on the Scherzer era by inking Shields.

This is just my speculation, but I think the Padres could be an under-the-radar contender for Shields given how aggressive they’ve been this offseason.  The Padres have shown an interest in Cole Hamels, so if they’re looking to add a top-of-the-rotation starter, signing Shields would give San Diego that ace without having to send Wil Myers and other young talents to the Phillies.  If the Padres are willing to cover what Hamels is owed through the 2018 season ($96MM plus an additional $14MM for 2019 if his option vests), then you’d think the Padres would be open to paying Shields the comparable five-year/$95MM figure that Dierkes projected.  Incidentally, San Diego is just a few hours’ drive from Shields’ hometown of Santa Clarita, California.

Where do you believe “Big Game James” will be pitching in 2015?


NL West Notes: Preller, Giants, Kemp, Kendrick

The Padres‘ new lineup might not make them the best in the NL West, but GM A.J. Preller’s flurry of activity has made the team relevant again, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes. “I think he went in there very open-minded,” says Preller’s former boss Jon Daniels, who notes that Preller’s background in finding amateur talent with the Rangers might have made rebuilding the more obvious course than the one he ended up following. “To his credit, when he saw they had a strong pitching foundation and such a good environment with the staff, he knew they had an opportunity to build off that and not take it backwards.” Here’s more from the NL West.

  • Giants GM Brian Sabean says the team has not had discussions with Max Scherzer and does not plan to, the San Jose Mercury News’ Alex Pavlovic tweets. Pavlovic adds that Sabean does not think much of the current free agent market for left fielders, and instead could attempt to acquire one in a trade. Sabean says (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle on Twitter) that the team has “limited financial flexibility,” given their recent signings of Jake Peavy and Sergio Romo and trade for Casey McGehee, and must decide whether to spend aggressively on James Shields or a left fielder.
  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is aware of the risks involved in trading Matt Kemp to San Diego, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes. “We get it. I have a lot of respect for what he can do in the batter’s box,” says Friedman. Nonetheless, the Kemp trade and the Dodgers’ many other offseason moves have been aimed at “mold[ing] our roster into the most highly-functioning baseball team, as opposed to a collection of talent,” he says.
  • The Dodgers’ acquisition of Howie Kendrick from the Angels for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney might not work out unless the Dodgers can sign Kendrick to an extension, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times writes. If Heaney becomes a reliable starter for the Angels, the Dodgers will need to sign Kendrick to get good value from the deal. Both Kendrick and the Dodgers say the two sides have not yet discussed an extension, although Friedman suggests they could at some point.

AL East Notes: Yanks, Detwiler, McLouth, Melky, Sox

The Yankees came away from the Winter Meetings without completing any deals, though it wasn’t for lack of trying, GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch“We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we’ve got a long way between now and Opening Day,” said Cashman as he left the meetings. We’ll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive, and just wait and see.” Hoch writes that the Yankees never made proposals to David Robertson or Brandon McCarthy, the latter of whom “went to a level we couldn’t play on,” in Cashman’s words.

More from the AL East…

  • The Orioles had definite interest in Ross Detwiler before the Nats traded him to the Rangers, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. That he ended up in Texas may be best for the player himself, however, as Kubatko notes that Baltimore would’ve kept Detwiler in the ‘pen. The Rangers plan to use him as a starter, which is his preference.
  • Also from Kubatko, the Orioles have interest in bringing back old friend Nate McLouth, though not at his current $5MM (plus a $750K buyout of a 2016 option) price tag. The Nationals are willing to eat part of that salary to move McLouth, Kubatko adds, but the Orioles will wait to see if he is released for the time being.
  • The Orioles have some interest in Melky Cabrera, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, but only on a two- or three-year deal (Twitter link). Cabrera is said to be eyeing a five-year deal, however, and the Mariners’ previously reported interest appears to be stronger than that of the Orioles, based on Encina’s tweet.
  • Though the Red Sox have five starters (or will have five, once the Wade Miley trade is completed), Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that they’re still a match for Cole Hamels. He speculates that an arm like Joe Kelly could be a part of a trade with the Phillies, thereby opening a spot in the Boston rotation.
  • Peter Gammons looks at the reconstructed Red Sox rotation, noting a heavy emphasis on ground-ball pitchers that places some pressure on Xander Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval. Gammons notes that the Red Sox brass is aware of its lack of a front-line starter. They’d like to add James Shields, but “exit polls” at the Winter Meetings had him going to the Giants, according to Gammons. Johnny Cueto is of interest, but the “timing and price isn’t there right now,” and Hamels negotiations with the Phillies have been difficult for all teams involved.

Winter Meetings Rumors: Giants, Santana, Marlins, Morneau, Dodgers, Angels

Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:

  • The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
  • The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the GiantsRoyals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
  • The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
  • Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
  • Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
  • The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
  • After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.