NBC Sports reports that the St. Louis Cardinals may be interested in signing former Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields.
About a month ago, Shields' representatives claimed the 33-year-old hurler had an offer on the table for north of $110 million. But it looks like that allegation has been exposed as a bluff. Now it is speculated that he could be had on a four-year deal for $70-$80 million.
While I thought the Redbirds would have been a good fit for St. Louis native Max Scherzer, three years Shields' junior, I'm not really excited about Shields -- even at the lower sticker price.
He's got tons of miles on his arm and Shields doesn't really profile as an ace type pitcher anymore. He's probably a number two or number three starter right now. What's he going to be in two years when he's 35?
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In 2011 Shields allowed only 195 hits in 249 1/3 innings. But he's become increasingly more hittable since then, allowing 224 hits in 227 innings last season. His baseball cards stats remain impressive with 14 wins with a 3.28 ERA in 2014. Be he played for a playoff team in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball.
Shields did walk only 44 compared to 180 strikeouts. But his swing and miss totals have dropped steadily the last four seasons: 225 to 223 to 196 to 180.
The free agent hurler also isn't much of a post season pitcher, despite his nickname, Big Game James. In the playoffs and World Series he is 3-6 with a 5.46 ERA.
So, maybe if Shields wants to take a one-year pillow deal for $17-$18 million, maybe that would be a good idea for the Cardinals. But I doubt that's going to happen for a couple of reasons.
First, at Shields' age, he'd be unwise to hope to get a better, longer term deal next year. Nobody is going to give a 34-year-old guy a four or five-year pact.
Second, if Shields is that cheap, other teams are going to come out of the woodwork and drive up his price. He could end up with that four-year deal NBC thinks he deserves. And, if I was the St. Louis GM, I'm not a buyer at that price.
This would have to be something similar to the one-year contract Kyle Lohse signed with St. Louis when he found himself standing when the free agent music stopped playing a few years back.
But the Yankees are said to also be interested in Shields and the LA Times ran a column today suggesting that the Dodgers would be a good fit for the pitcher.