For a multitude of reasons, James Shields’ free agency this offseason has been surrounded by plenty of uncertainty. First, the fact that the calendar turned to February and Shields was still on the market, was unexpected. Second, the list of teams who have pursued the right-hander isn’t completely known.
With pitchers and catchers across baseball reporting to Spring Training within the next two weeks, Shields has at last found himself a new home as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports he’s agreed to a four-year deal that includes a team option for a fifth year with the San Diego Padres:
Source: Shields gets $75 million guaranteed over four seasons with #Padres. Club option for 2019 valued at $16 million.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 9, 2015
Should the Padres exercise their option for a fifth year, Shields’ contract still pales in comparison to what Jon Lester ($155 million) and Max Scherzer ($210 million) received. However, Shields becomes the first pitcher to receive more than $50 million as a free agent after Feb. 1.
The signing is also of great significance for the Padres as prior to this agreement with Shields, the largest free agent contract they doled out in franchise history was a two-year, $14 million to reliever Joaquin Benoit.
Shields once reportedly turned down a $110 million offer and in recent weeks, he was projected to sign a contract in the neighborhood of $80 million. He’s a career 114-90 with a 3.72 ERA and has logged more than 200 innings every season since 2007.
Throughout the process there was a strong suspicion Shields was interested in pitching on the West Coast. The Dodgers reportedly expressed an interest in the 33 year old back in December, and general manager Farhan Zaidi didn’t rule out signing him during a January interview, but the Dodgers never appeared to get serious in their pursuit.
Instead, the Dodgers’ latest focus reportedly has been placed on Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera, during which time the Padres began to emerge as the favorite to sign the right-hander. For the Padres, landing Shields completes their busy offseason, and serves as a nice recovery after losing out on the Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas sweepstakes.
With Shields no longer available, it means the Dodgers went through the offseason without spending big to address their rotation; instead opting to sign Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy. Though the latter didn’t necessarily come cheap — four years, $48 million.
In signing Shields the Padres forfeit their first-round pick in the 2015 draft, which now gives the Dodgers the No. 24 and No. 35 picks — the first being their own pick and the second a compensation pick for the Boston Red Sox signing Hanley Ramirez.
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