James Shields, the last of the big free agent starting pitchers available this offseason finally came off the board late Sunday night with news he agreed to a four-year deal with the San Diego Padres.
After rejecting a qualifying offer from the Kansas City Royals, the expectation was Shields’ market would heat up after Jon Lester and Max Scherzer made their respective decisions. Lester signed with the Chicago Cubs in December and Scherzer with the Washington Nationals in January, but the talks for Shields remained at a whisper — at least publicly.
There were reports the right-hander had a $110 million offer in hand prior to the Padres emerging as the favorite to sign Shields. However, before he agreed to a deal with San Diego, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports Shields pursued a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 9, 2015
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Dodgers and Shields were not able to get on the same page with respects to dollar amount:
The Dodgers discussed an offer with James Shields, but LAD was looking for something more cost effective; $ weren't close to his final deal.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 9, 2015
Shields’ attempt to land a contract from the Dodgers isn’t surprising considering his desire was to pitch on the West Coast. Additionally, by getting the deep-pocketed Dodgers involved, it could have driven up the price to ultimately sign Shields.
The Dodgers were reported as having expressed an interest in Shields and general manager Farhan Zaidi didn’t rule out signing him when asked about the possibility in a mid-January interview with MLB Network Radio.
While Zaidi and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman have maintained they would explore all options that would improve the team, the signing of Shields never appeared to be a likely scenario. Rather than spend in excess of $70 million for the 33 year old, the Dodgers signed Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy to fill out their rotation.
Now with Shields, the Padres’ pitching staff is labeled by some as being comparable to that of the Dodgers and if 2014 is any indication, San Diego has the superior bullpen. However, the Dodgers also made strides this offseason to address that deficiency.
It won’t take long for the two teams to pit their remade rosters against one another as the Dodgers ring in the 2015 season with a three-game set against the Padres at Chavez Ravine.
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