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.