As the last of the three big-name free agent pitchers this offseason, suffice to say the market for James Shields has yet to materialize in a similar fashion to the way it did for Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.
Lester was the first to sign, inking a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs during the Winter Meetings. Just over one month later, Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Washington Nationals, giving them on paper, the best starting rotation in baseball.
With Shields’ free agency having unexpectedly dragged into February, the right-hander may be nearing a decision with multiple options available to him, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports:
Sources: James Shields has multiple offers in hand and is expected to sign by the end of this week. @FOXSports
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 4, 2015
Throughout the offseason, the number and names of teams to have held talks with Shields or his agent has largely been an unknown. In early December, the Dodgers reportedly expressed an interest in Shields, as well as Lester and Scherzer, who were still available at that time. By early January, some believed Shields had a $110 million offer in hand, which if true, he apparently believed it was in his best interest to pass on.
In a mid-January interview, Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi didn’t rule out signing Shields, despite having already added Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, among others, to the pitching staff. Shortly after, it was reported Shields was seeking a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $125 million, while teams were countering with estimates of four years and $80 million.
The Dodgers certainly have the spending power to add Shields to a rotation that would rival the Nationals’ and there’s the connection to Andrew Friedman during their time with the Tampa Bay Rays. While Shields would strengthen the staff, there are concerns accompany signing him; namely his age (33) and the fact that the Dodgers would forfeit their first-round pick.
Shields has pitched at least 203 innings per season in eight of his nine years in the Majors, but long-term contracts for pitchers around his age generally don’t prove to be advantageous for the team. As for the draft pick, the Dodgers in a sense would recoup the one they lose as they hold a compensation pick from the Boston Red Sox by way of them signing Hanley Ramirez.
Another hindrance that may prevent the Dodgers from signing Shields is their interest in Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada, who was ruled a free agent on Tuesday and cleared to sign.