When the San Diego Padres signed James Shields to a four-year deal before the 2015 season, they envisioned an ace pitcher. In reality Shields is not an ace. He is a very solid pitcher and a great competitor, but he just doesn’t have the stuff to be universally recognized as an ace at this point in his career.
Most Padres fans are split when asked about the value that Shields holds. They understand the pitcher he is capable of being, but at the same time nobody can forget the 33 home runs he gave up last year. That led the National League in the category and more often than not the homers he gave up were in big situations.
The value of Shields is definitely debatable, but there are some teams that could really use him. He eats up innings and that has value in this day and age. A team that has been mentioned as interested is the Baltimore Orioles. Jon Heyman explained that the Padres and Orioles have had discussions, but nothing seems close.
The debate over Shields value takes place in the front offices of major league clubs as well. While some value his durability and attitude, others balk at the $21 million owed per season for the next three seasons. There is the possibility Shields opts out after the 2016 season, but that is his option, and not a guarantee. He will most likely not opt out as it will be difficult seeing James Shields get more on the open market than the $44 million he would be guaranteed. Still you never really know. That further complicates the possibility of dealing him.
The two teams have already come to an agreement this off season when the Padres DFA’d Odrisamer Despaigne and were forced to work out a deal with the Orioles. The Padres landed a pretty decent prospect in Jean Cosme for Despaigne. The young right hander has impressed some in camp and looks to have a decent future within the system. Since there was already open dialogue between the two teams it seems rational that a deal can be worked out.
There are two different scenarios in which a deal could possibly take place. Shields to the Orioles could very well happen, but it will take some work from both teams. It all really depends on if the Padres are trying to just dump his salary, or if they still hold out hope for attaining a decent prospect or two in trading him. His value is an enigma right now. The value of Shields can easily skyrocket or plummet and only time will tell. He’s like an unscratched lottery ticket.
The Padres are just desperate to get rid of Shields and the money he is owed. They are so eager to trade the pitcher that they in fact will eat some salary to move him. If he does not opt of his contract for the 2017 & 2018 season, the team will eat even more money. This seems like a possible solution, and if you ask most around baseball they will tell you that the Padres are just trying to dump Shields. He was already removed as the opening day starter and replaced by Tyson Ross. The writing is on the wall. The team will move him as soon as possible.
So with his value so low the Padres might consider a deal of Miguel Gonzalez and a low-level prospect for James Shields and cash. If he does not opt out after the season, the Padres will pay more cash to the O’s. Shields is owed a total of $21 million per season for the next three with a two million dollar buy out for the 2019 season. Gonzalez is making $5.1 million and is arbitration eligible next season and then a free agent for the 2018 season. The finances of the deal would benefit the Padres clearly straight up, so some cash would need to be exchanged. Gonzalez has no place on the O’s staff, but what kind of pitcher is he?
The Mexican born right-handed pitcher is 32 years old and has been around for a while having pitched for the Angels, Red Sox and Orioles organizations since 2005. He is not a strike out pitcher and relies more on changing speeds and keeping batters off-balance. He has mostly started in his career, but could be used in long relief. Gonzalez owns a 3.82 ERA and is 39-33 in his four-year major league career. He made 26 starts for the Orioles last season and was 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA. The veteran has been getting knocked around this Spring to the tune of a 12.56 ERA in 14 innings. Not exactly a promising start to his 2016 season.
Orioles fans are done with Gonzalez. He isn’t a lock by any means to make the Orioles rotation (let alone the staff) and James Shields would be a huge upgrade for the O’s. The money would have to be worked out. The Orioles would have to take on almost $16 million dollars this season and then be on the hook for $44 more if a deal is worked out. In this scenario the Padres would give the O’s some money now and also if Shields does not opt out. The amount paid to the Orioles would be contingent on the type of prospect the Padres also receive in the deal with Gonzalez.
This deal could happen if the Padres are indeed just trying to clear payroll. Gonzalez could resurrect his career at Petco and it would be a thrill for the Mexican national to pitch so close to home. The Padres are not traditionally the type of team to pay another team money though. I still think A.J. Preller is too stubborn to part with Shields unless he is content with the package he gets in return. In my opinion, this scenario isn’t likely. That bring us the second scenario.
PAGE 2 LINK BELOW