According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are not done this winter. “Sources say they continue to troll the trade market for hard-to-get young starting pitching and plan to add depth pieces in the outfield and on the pitching staff.”
Nick Cafardo mentioned in his Sunday Baseball Notes column, “There’s still a feeling that James Shields could be tacked on to a veteran staff. Among the potential candidates are the Cubs, Giants, Yankees, Blue Jays and Royals (if the Padres took on some money).”
Bruce Levine reported two weeks ago Shields was a possibility for the Cubs as the front office looks to add depth to the rotation. Levine mentioned during Inside the Clubhouse on Saturday morning that Shields is one of the pitchers the Cubs have discussed with the Padres, along with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross.
The acquisition cost for Shields and Cashner could be less because there is only one guaranteed year on their contracts. Cashner becomes a free agent following the season. And if he’s healthy and finally pitches to expectations, Cashner could be in for a large payday next winter. Shields has an opt-out in his contract and can become a free agent next off-season.
With pitchers signing for record amounts, Shields could choose to leave the $44 million that would be left on his current contract and if nothing else sign a new deal with the same AAV but with more guaranteed years.
James Shields signed a four-year, $75 million contract with the Padres last February. Shields is scheduled to make $21 million per season for the next three years. His contract includes a $16 million club option for 2019 that includes a $2 million buyout. Shields does not have a no-trade clause but there is an opt-out after the 2016 season. Shields is owed a guaranteed $65 million.
Shields turns 34 on Dec. 20 and was 13-7 in 33 starts with a 3.91 ERA and 1.33 WHIP last season. Shields allowed 93 runs, 88 earned, on 189 hits, 33 home runs, 81 walks and 216 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings. Outside of Petco Park, Shields was 7-4 in 17 starts with a 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
The Cubs tried to sign Shields last off-season but lost out to San Diego. Shields and Joe Maddon have an excellent relationship and that should not be discounted.
Reports have suggested A.J. Preller would like to trade Shields. But the Padres GM is not looking to include any money in a deal for Shields and he expects top talent in return for the veteran right-hander who is on the downside of his career. Shields has completed 200 or more innings in each of the last nine seasons. And all of that work appears to be catching up with him.
James Shields made sense for the Cubs last off-season on a contract the front office would be able to structure. Paying for Shields after sending prospects to San Diego to acquire him just doesn’t seem like a road the front office would go down to add pitching depth to the roster.