James Shields Rumors
Shields, 30, posted a 3.52 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 227 2/3 innings this past season. His name will no doubt surface in offseason trade rumors in the coming months.
The Rays have three remaining contract options. They'll exercise Fernando Rodney's option at $2.5MM and Luke Scott will probably obtain a $1MM buyout instead of a $6MM salary. The Rays also have an option for Jose Molina valued at $1.8MM.
The Upton brothers made history tonight as both Justin and B.J. hit their 100th career home runs. They become the sixth pair of brothers to each hit 100 Major League homers and the first to reach the plateau on the same evening. Here are some more news items from around the majors as we head into the weekend...
- Ichiro Suzuki's trade to the Yankees has spurred rumors that the Mariners' ownership group may be considering selling the team, writes CBS Sports' Scott Miller. Team CEO Howard Lincoln recently called the rumors "absolute nonsense."
- The Diamondbacks' search for an ace pitcher at the trade deadline involved a serious pursuit of James Shields and "kicking the tires" on Matt Garza, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The D'Backs asked the Red Sox about starting pitching (Piecoro presumes Josh Beckett and Jon Lester) but the talks went nowhere since the Snakes weren't willing to trade their top prospects.
- Garza, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Vargas, Chase Headley and Cliff Lee are five stars who would be on different teams had five deals "that should have happened but didn't" actually taken place before the deadline, writes ESPN's Jim Bowden (ESPN Insider subscription required).
- Jack Moore of Fangraphs looks at three hitters and three pitchers who could be trade targets in August.
- Mark Appel holds the #1 spot on Baseball America's ranking of 2013 amateur draft prospects. In general, the draft class is not thought to be overly deep, given a "generally underwhelming collection" of hitters and a high school class projected to be weaker than last year.
Links from the AL East, which remains the only division without a sub-.500 team...
- The Rays are 'cooler' on the idea of trading James Shields, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (onTwitter). It's difficult for Tampa Bay to act as a buyer because the positions at which they might seek upgrades, shortstop and catcher, are positions of scarcity in MLB.
- Ty Wigginton isn't at the top of the Yankees' list of potentially useful third basemen, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Yankees are looking for someone who can provide defense at the hot corner.
- The Yankees haven't contacted the Rockies about Rafael Betancourt, and it's doubtful the Rockies will trade him at all, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). The Orioles, Athletics, Rangers,Braves, Red Sox and Blue Jays have all been linked to Betancourt.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees can't take on a substantial contract, so Bryan Hoch of MLB.com says Yankees fans shouldn't expect to see Cliff Lee in navy pinstripes anytime soon (Twitter links). Cashman said it's possible but unlikely that the Yankees will make a trade before tomorrow's deadline, Hoch writes. "I highly doubt it," the GM said.
- The Blue Jays are unlikely to complete a trade for Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Marlins expect to keep Johnson instead of trading him.
- Here are the latest Red Sox-related rumors.
If the Rays trade James Shields, they'd be looking to exceed the package of prospects the Brewers obtained for Zack Greinke, according to Jon Heyman. Greinke, who was traded for prospects Jean Segura, Ariel Pena and John Hellweg, is headed for free agency, but Shields is under team control through 2014 with a pair of club options. The Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, Indians and Rangers are among the teams with interest in Shields. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the 30-year-old. The most recent items are up top:
- Teams have started to wonder how serious the Rays are about trading Shields, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports.
- The Rangers don't believe Shields will be traded, so they could focus on relief help instead of attempting to add to their rotation, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports.
- The Rangers were far more interested in Shields than Josh Johnson even before Johnson walked six Padres today, Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- Manager Joe Maddon says he doesn't expect the Rays to make any deals, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "We talk a lot and it always takes two to dance, and at the end of the day it's difficult to match up all the time," Maddon said. "So I would bet that nothing really happens.''
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported today that some executives believe the Rays will trade Shields before the trade deadline.
A player’s contract status can affect his trade value substantially this time of year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Players under team-friendly contracts, like Denard Span, are much harder to acquire in trades. "It's really hard to place a value on a contract like that," one GM told Olney. Here are Olney’s latest notes from around MLB:
- The Blue Jays say Yunel Escobar has been a good team guy for them, despite his reputation as a difficult player. Escobar is under contract for $5MM per season through 2013 and his contract includes two club options valued at $5MM each for 2014-15. That’s good value for a 29-year-old who handles an up-the-middle position and has a history of providing league-average offense, Olney writes.
- There’s interest in James Shields, but the Rays could decide to hold their pitching staff together to make a run at the playoffs if Evan Longoria’s rehab assignment goes well. Some executives believe the Rays will trade Shields this month, according to Olney.
- The Marlins aren’t especially motivated to trade Josh Johnson, Olney writes. They’re content to keep him if they don’t get the trade offers they’re looking for.
- Anything the Indians do now will be done to help them win in 2013, not just in 2012.
- The Padres aren’t far down the road in trade talks regarding Chase Headley, Olney tweets. San Diego might table trade talks until the winter, he suggests.
With Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels off the market, clubs could turn to Rays right-hander James Shields for pitching help at the trade deadline. The 30-year-old owns a 4.52 ERA this year but finished third in the Cy Young Award voting just last season. There are club options for 2013 ($9MM) and 2014 ($12MM) in his contract, so Shields offers a ton of flexibility. Here are today's rumors on Tampa's Opening Day starter, with the latest up top...
- The Cardinals also have interest in Shields according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He says the Rays seek a package "north of Greinke" in return.
- Rival executives believe more and more that the Rays will trade Shields prior to the deadline according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- The Braves, Dodgers, Indians, and Rangers are among the clubs with the most interest in Shields, according to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times. The Angels had interest but are presumably out of the running after acquiring Greinke.
Though the Giants did pick up some infield help in Marco Scutaro earlier tonight, the Giants are focusing on relief pitching given the high cost of a big hitter, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He cites Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt, Brandon League, Chris Perez and Francisco Rodriguez as a few of the names linked to San Francisco and "if there’s a guy who has experience pitching in the later innings and he’s now on a second-division team, you can bet the Giants are looking into him," Schulman writes.
The Giants aren't the only team who are looking into the arms race as we head towards the trade deadline. Here are some more pitching-related rumors...
- James Shields' recent struggles haven't been due to trade speculation, the right-hander told media (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). Rays manager Joe Maddon feels that Shields will still be with the team after the deadline.
- Maddon and executive VP Andrew Friedman shared a "guffaw" over a rumor that the Rays would send Shields to the Angels in exchange for Garrett Richards and Howie Kendrick, according to MLB.com's Bill Chastain. Friedman said he's still not sure how the Rays' deadline strategy will evolve.
- The Orioles are looking to add a starter moreso than a position player, executive VP Dan Duquette tells reporters (including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli). Duquette said other teams have shown interest in Baltimore's own pitching depth in the majors and minors, and Ghiroli speculates that the O's wouldn't deal a young arm without getting a Major League-ready starter in return.
- In response to the latest Felix Hernandez rumors, a Mariners source tells ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link) that "Felix will be a Mariner." The M's have been adamant that they have no intention of trading their ace despite looking at a long-term rebuilding plan.
- Through Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said his team was probably done trading after acquiring Zack Greinke earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) reports the Halos are looking for a reliever to share late-inning duties with Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs.
- Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated looks at the three tiers of starting pitchers available at the deadline.
Here's the latest out of the NL East...
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told reporters (including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com) that his plan is to keep his team's rotation intact, though plans can change. The Phillies have a "lot of balls in [the] air trade-wise."
- The Phillies are listening to offers for Shane Victorino though they haven't yet indicated that they're willing to move him, tweets ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. The Dodgers, Giants, Pirates and Reds are among the teams interested in the center fielder.
- The Braves are still looking to upgrade their rotation, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The Braves have shown interest in Edinson Volquez and James Shields, though Bowman notes that a less-pricey pitching option like Rays right-hander Wade Davis could fit Atlanta's needs. Multiple teams have asked about Davis, though he's pitched out of the bullpen all season and wouldn't be able to immediately help a team looking for a starter.
- Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen told reporters (including Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post) that despite the Marlins' struggles, they don't regret coming to Miami.
- The Mets are focused on acquiring players who can help the team beyond just the 2012 season, reports ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Both Rubin's source and manager Terry Collins didn't think any deals were imminent before the deadline.
- Scott Hairston told Rubin that the Mets haven't approached him about a contract extension. A team insider tells Rubin that "Nothing I know of was accomplished" when the Tigers and Mets recently discussed a Hairston trade.
Besides the Angels and Brewers themselves, perhaps no team was as impacted by the Zack Greinke trade as the Rangers. Here's the latest on the Rangers' own pursuit of Greinke and how they plan to counter the Angels' newest salvo in the battle for the AL West.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that the Rangers were the other finalist for Greinke's services. The Rangers offered Leury Garcia, Chad Bell and Justin Grimm to the Brewers.
- Had the Rangers been willing to include third base prospect Mike Olt in their offer to the Brewers, Greinke probably would've ended up in Texas, USA Today's Bob Nightengale. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, however, reports the Brewers wanted Martin Perez and didn't "insist" on Olt or Jurickson Profar, though Texas still felt the requested package of prospects was too much (both links are to Twitter).
- With Greinke gone, the Rangers won't necessarily try to acquire Josh Johnson or James Shields, a source tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The Marlins and Rays have put a high price tag on their aces and the Rangers may wait to see if they lower their demands. Sullivan notes that if the Rangers weren't willing to deal the likes of Olt for Greinke, they wouldn't trade him or other top prospects for another pitcher who they didn't value as highly.
- The Rangers also valued Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee more than they did Greinke, reports Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Hamels just signed an extension to remain in Philadelphia and the Rangers shied away from the large salary still owed to Lee through the 2015 season.
- The Rangers are "unlikely" to get Johnson, while they're still in play for Shields, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
Zack Greinke is on his way to the Angels and the ripple effects of this big move are reverberating throughout baseball. Here is some of the early reaction to the big deal and how it will impact other clubs as we approach the trade deadline...
- Los Angeles paid a "significant" price for Greinke, especially given that he's only under contract through the rest of this season, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). As for the minor league package going to Milwaukee, "it's only marginally less than the Brewers initially gave up for two years of Greinke, but has a lot more risk, as all three of the prospects involved have fairly low floors," says Law.
- The Angels "must be thrilled" over acquiring Greinke without having to deal Peter Bourjos or Garrett Richards, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Greinke trade could it for the Angels' deadline moves. "This in all likelihood will be all we do," GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link).
- Dipoto also told DiGiovanna that he hasn't discussed an extension yet with Greinke, who can be a free agent after this season. An AL executive tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link) that the Angels must have gotten "at least [an] inkling from [the] Greinke camp he can be re-signed" or else they wouldn't have made the deal.
- Greinke told reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that he enjoyed his time in Milwaukee and would be open to returning if the Brewers pursued him in free agency. The right-hander described his choice to not sign an extension with the Brewers as "a business decision."
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told reporters (including Haudricourt) that he "zeroed in" on three suitors for Greinke before narrowing the field down to just two teams. "We got a lot of phone calls. When you have a player of Zack's caliber, a lot of people are instructed to make a phone call to get involved," Melvin said.
- The Angels were reportedly high on Greinke's list of preferred trade destinations, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Greinke also would've liked to pitch for the Braves and Cardinals.
- The Rays were hoping that if Greinke was dealt to the Angels or Rangers, it would move the other to "pay big" for James Shields, reports Sherman (Twitter link). Other executives, however, think the Rangers prefer Josh Johnson over Shields.