Shields, 33, is the last remaining big name free agent left on the market and it seems that there are a handful of teams still interested in making a late splash on the right-hander. According to Yahoo! Sports, it seems that the options are down to the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and now a new suitor has come into play, the Chicago Cubs.
Yes, the Cubs. The team that signed Jon Lester to six-year, $155 million deal at the beginning of the off-season are now looking into possibly landing Shields as well. Like David Kaplan of Comcast Sports Net states, there are a lot of factors that could draw Shields to the North-side.
One of the biggest attractions would be the ties to the club’s new manager Joe Maddon. Shields pitched under Maddon during both of their tenures with the Rays and a reunion would be something that Shields would be interested in.
The Cubs were a late entry into the sweepstakes, but since Shields has waited so long to sign, his asking price has likely gone down. Chicago has been waiting on the backburner to see what Shields was fishing for in the market, and now that his price could go down to the $70 million dollar range, it would be the perfect time for the Cubs to jump in.
Now looking at the other possible landing spots, the Padres seem to have a bit of an edge out of the gates because Shields said living close to home, in Southern California, was one of the biggest factors into where he was going to sign. The Padres have been rather aggressive this off-season as they acquired All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they have been in the market for a frontline starter and Shields could be the perfect fit.
The Padres have some wiggle room with how much money they can offer Shields as well. San Diego is getting $32 million with Kemp so they have the extra cash right now to help with Shields’ large asking price.
It would be a nice fit if Shields found his way out west, but the Marlins and Cardinals want to try and keep him in the East. The Marlins have had Shields on their radar for some time, and they have a connection to him as their GM Dan Jennings was the GM when Shields was in Tampa Bay. However, the biggest snag would be if they have enough money to bring him in. They already signed Giancarlo Stanton to a deal worth over $300 million and they also brought in Mat Latos and potentially Dan Haren if he decides to stay and not retire.
Miami would be a good fit if they would be able to work something out, but it may be hard to do with so little time remaining before Shields makes his decision. This opens the door for another rather late entry, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have been in the market for a starting pitcher for a good while now, and since they lost Shelby Miller in the Jason Heyward trade, they need to find a suitable replacement.
The Cardinals were in on big name starters like Lester and Scherzer, but after they failed to strike gold and land them, Shields would be the next best thing. He can stay in Missouri after he spent the last two seasons in Kansas City. The Cardinals also showed interest in giving Lester around $120 million, so it appears that the money is there to land Shields around his $70-80 million range.
It’s hard to predict where Shields will land, but with reports that he has multiple offers waiting, it seems that we could get an answer here in the next few days.
Shields is coming off a year in which he posted a 3.21 ERA, 180 strikeouts in over 200 innings pitched.