Time is running out for James Shields to sign a contract before pitchers and catchers begin streaming into Arizona and Florida over the next two weeks, but according to one report, the former Kansas City Royals’ ace seems to be finally ready to choose a team.
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According to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, Shields has multiple offers he is considering and is hoping to sign with a team before the end of this week.
It is surprising that arguably the second-best free agent of 2015 (or at least the second-best free agent pitcher behind Max Scherzer) is still left unsigned in the waning weeks of the offseason. “Big Game” James Shields had one of his best years as a professional for the AL Champion Royals, winning 14 games, posting a 3.21 ERA and a WHIP of 1.181.
As Kansas City rolled through the postseason some of the luster of his nickname wore off when he was rocked in the playoffs to the tune of a 6.12 ERA, never allowing less than two runs in five starts, including allowing seven runs in nine innings of work over two World Series games, losing both.
There was some hope that after losing Scherzer, the Detroit Tigers would turn their attention to Shields. It was also considered a potentially wise move on the Tigers’ part to lure Shields to Detroit as it would likely increase their chances of signing David Price long-term. Price and Shields are good friends from their days making up two-fifths of the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting rotation from 2008-2012.
So while the Tigers could be a player, and no teams or front-runners were mentioned in Morosi’s report, a report from last month from Fox’s Ken Rosenthal stated that Shields would prefer to pitch on the West Coast near his home in San Diego. That would of course rule out the Upper Midwest.
All throughout the offseason Dave Dombrowski has remained steadfast in his satisfaction with his scheduled starting five of Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, Alfredo Simon and Price. Though in typical DD double-speak he has never quite shut the door on additions through Scherzer (who of course signed with Washington) and Shields.
I get the sense that he may be telling the truth in this instance. Certainly Shields would add to the depth of the Tigers’ starters but a lifetime postseason ERA of 5.46 has to give any team pause, including Detroit who has their sights on making another World Series run.
Of course anything can happen in the crazy final days of the Hot Stove League.