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Rays say Shields is off the market. What about Hellickson?

Fox Sports reports that the Rays are telling clubs that they've decided to take pitcher James Shields off the trading block.

But that might not be bad news for the Cardinals who have been rumored to be in talks with Tampa Bay about one of its starting pitchers.

Shields is an ace with a 9-8 record held down by the Rays' fading playoff hopes. He's got a 2.53 ERA with 118 hits allowed in 159 1/3 inninngs. I can see why Tampa Bay would want to hang onto him. But, while Shields would be a great catch, he's not the guy the Cardinals have been said to be pursuing.

The Redbirds like Shields' lower cost rotationmate, Jeremy Hellickson. Since the Rays are deep in starting pitchers and that seems to be the talent pool from which they are willing to deal, could the withdrawl of Shields from the trade arena mean that Hellickson has been determined to be the sacrificial lamb?

Hellickson is 9-7 with a 3.17 ERA and 85 hits allowed in 110 2/3 innings of work. He's allowed less than 1.2 baserunners per inning pitched which makes him more attractive that White Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson.

He's also 24 years old with a $418,000 salary compared to Jackson's $8.35 million contract that expires at the end of the season.

Even if the Rays decided to trade no one, it might be good for the Cardinals. NL Central rival Cincinnati has been rumored to be in talks with the Rays for starting pitching help. And Shields is the pitcher the Reds in which the Reds were the most interested.

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