Former Kansas City Royals ace James Shields claims that he has a $110 million contract offer on the table.
If that's the case, I wonder why he hasn't jumped on it.
That's pretty good coin for a 33-year-old guy who has more miles put on him over the last eight years than a Greyhound bus. He's logged an average of 223 frames season since 2007 and never pitched less than 203 1/3 innings in campaign over that span.
That's a great record for durability. But that's a lot of wear and tear on an arm. The rumored five-year contract would cover Shields through his age 38 season. What are the odds he'll be able to keep up the innings and not break down for another half decade?
The circumstantial evidence seems to indicate that that claim is an infamous mystery team designed to light a fire under actual, real life bidders. But the fact that the rumor was floated seems to be an indication from Shields' representation that they believe a nine-figure deal is really out there. If that claim was out of the ballpark from real interest levels, such a claim could end up scaring away the suitors the pitcher really has.
If it's not a ruse, it would seem to be a decided shift in what has seemed to be a soft free agent market.
Only one player so far has managed to land a deal of greater than $100 million, Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester who got $155 million. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval was close at $95 million. Last year there were four $100 million plus players, Masahiro Tanaka got $155 million from the New York Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury got $153 million from the Yanks, Shin-Soo Choo got $130 million from the Texas Rangers and Rabinson Cano was the lottery winner, getting $240 million to defect from New York to the Seattle Mariners.
While agent Scott Boras has claimed that his client, former Detroit Tigers ace Max Scherzer, would reach the $200 million mark, it has seemed doubtful up to this point that anyone would get that much in the 2014-15 off-season. Shields' contract will likely set the market one way or another.
If Shields really gets $110 million and five years, it goes to prove that clubs have more money to spend than they claim. The Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and other potential bidders have all claimed they couldn't afford that kind of cash.
So that sort of contract, while it would likely take one bidder off the market, would prove that there is still an appetite for reckless deals.
Teams ought to be willing to reach deeper into their pockets for Scherzer who is a better -- and younger hurler. But clubs seem reluctant to stretch a deal as long as six years even though Scherzer has only throw 1,239 1/3 innings over his career in comparison to Sheilds' 1,910 1/3, a difference of three heavy seasons of work.