An answer to the question of where will James Shields sign is expected soon. It is believed that Shields will make a decision by the end of the week, at the latest by the weekend, which would be in the next 48-72 hours.
The Padres are considered the frontrunner to land Shields, at least according to Bob Nightengale and Jon Heyman. The Cubs appear to be in the mix and could be a late re-entrant due to the possibility of Shields’ market, and asking price dropping.
Bruce Levine reported the Cubs “would absolutely love to add him to their ever improving starting rotation.” Shields asking price has seemed to come down and according to Levine, “it appears interested teams are offering shorter terms in length and price range.” Jon Heyman added that a Cubs’ source he spoke with indicated “they might become a player, especially if the price falls significantly.”
The Cubs appear to be interested in Shields at the right price, and the Cubs are one of the teams Shields is considering according to David Kaplan.
The Padres, Cubs, Blue Jays, Marlins, Brewers, and Athletics are reportedly the teams in the mix for Shields at this point of the off-season with less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.
San Diego is “said to be determined to add a top rotation piece and are believed to like Shields” according to Jon Heyman. Shields has a home in the San Diego area and would prefer to pitch on the West Coast.
The Padres interest in Shields could depend on their talks with the Phillies for Cole Hamels.
And the Marlins are believed to be in the mix for Shields, to what level is unknown. Shields has a history with Marlins’ GM Dan Jennings. The Devil Rays selected Shields in the 16th round of the 2000 draft when Jennings was Tampa’s scouting director.
Jon Heyman speculated Shields’ value in the market may have dropped into the range of the contract Ervin Santana signed with the Twins, four years and $55 million plus a $14 million club option for a fifth year. Heyman explained “Shields was reported to be seeking a five-year deal for well in excess of $100 million at first, though recent estimates have suggested teams interested at a level around Ervin Santana’s $55 million contract, or perhaps a bit more.”
Jim Bowden thinks Shields has received three and four-year offers and will likely sign a four-year contract.
And Hardball Talk pointed out there has not been a free agent in baseball history to sign a deal for more than $50 million after Feb. 1. Shields should be the first player to exceed a $50 million contract, but it’s very unlikely he will get the $100-plus million he was seeking when free agency began.
While a deal with James Shields was not close two days ago, a decision is expected very soon. And according to Buster Olney, “there is a growing sense among some of the folks involved in James Shields conversations that he will probably land with the Padres.”