Skip to content

Rays should trade James Shields to fill holes

Nov 11, 2012, 6:30 PM EDT

James Shields Getty Images

That the Rays will trade a starter this winter seems like a given. With David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann and Chris Archer all under contract, the Rays possess both quality and quantity in the rotation.

What they don’t have are bats and a lot of money, so with holes at first base, catcher, one middle infield spot and one outfield spot, dealing a starter for a hitter or two makes all of the sense in the world.

In terms of return, Moore and Price undoubtedly have the most trade value in the group, with Hellickson not too far behind. That’s why it might be tempting to deal from that trio.

Shields, though, has plenty of value himself. His two club options call for him about $24 million the next two years. That’s pretty expensive for the Rays — in fact, his $10.25 million salary in 2013 will be the highest in club history — but it’s palatable compared to what inferior free agents will command this winter. If Shields were a free agent, he’d probably be in line for $16 million-$18 million per year in a five-year deal.

And I just don’t trust Shields to keep this up. He’s been one of baseball’s best starters the last two years, but he’s also thrown 477 innings between those two seasons. He’s reached 215 innings five of the last six years, missing only when he finished at 203 in 2010.

That durability has given him a ton of value in Tampa Bay, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 now. Dan Haren had a very similar streak to Shields from ages 25-30 before suddenly taking a dive last season. It was probably different back in the 1970s, but in the last 30 years, the list of the pitchers who have been most durable before age 30 doesn’t match up very well with the list of pitchers durable after age 30.

There’s talk about the Rays perhaps dealing Hellickson to Arizona for Justin Upton, and I don’t think that’d be a bad idea at all. But if they’re looking at lesser names to fill the gaps, they might as well save as much money as they can in the process. They still have Price for three more years, and while he’s going to get expensive in a hurry — he could command more than Shields in 2014 — he’ll still have plenty of trade value in a year or two if they want to go that route. Hellickson is four years away from free agency.

If the Rays trade Shields for a young regular, they’ll suddenly free up $10 million they can spend on one of the other holes. It’d be like trading for an extra player. Shields might bring back a Josh Reddick from Oakland, a Travis d’Arnaud from Toronto or a Wil Myers from Kansas City. ┬áThen the Rays could use the salary to sign Mike Napoli to play first and catch or Stephen Drew to start at short. They’d have plenty of options.

Latest Posts
  1. Video: Jorge Soler homers in his first major league at-bat

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    jorge soler getty Getty Images

    Watch as Cubs top outfield prospect Jorge Soler goes deep to left-center field in his first major league at-bat Wednesday evening at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati …

  2. Michael Wacha to make first rehab start Sunday with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT

    wacha getty Getty Images

    From Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly comes word that Michael Wacha has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. Wacha threw a simulated game at Springfield on Wednesday afternoon and reported no issues with his shoulder.

  3. Rockies place Wilin Rosario on the disabled list

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    wilin rosario getty Getty Images

    Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario continues to battle with inflammation in his left wrist and was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday evening.

  4. Adam Wainwright has a “dead arm”

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Wainwright

    Which, despite the name of it, usually isn’t as serious as a lot of other stuff that can afflict pitchers.

  5. Yankees sign Mets castoff Chris Young

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    chris young getty Getty Images

    Young signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with the Mets this offseason in the hopes of building back his value before hitting the free agent market again, but instead he hit just .205 with eight homers and a .630 OPS in 88 games.

  6. Royals demote Aaron Crow to Double-A

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Aaron Crow AP

    Crow was an All-Star in 2011 and has a 3.35 ERA in 226 career innings through age 26, including a 3.86 ERA in 59 appearances this season.

  7. David Ortiz is back in the Red Sox’s lineup

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:18 PM EDT

    David Ortiz AP

    In the 10 games prior to the injury Ortiz hit .515 with four homers, three doubles, and a 1.606 OPS while the Red Sox went 2-8.

  8. Jury awards Jose Offerman’s bat attack victim $940,000

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    Jose Offerman AP AP

    Offerman ended a man’s career by hitting him with a bat. Now he has to pay for it.

  9. Yonder Alonso needs surgery to “re-attach a ruptured tendon to the bone”

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:21 PM EDT

    yonder alonso getty Getty Images

    Alonso is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason coming off a career-worst season in which he hit just .240 with seven homers and a .682 OPS in 84 games.

  10. Great Moments in Drug Testing and Punishment: The NFL Edition

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    marijuana

    The league that has no HGH testing and never gets criticized for its drug policies, has suspended a guy for a year for using a substance that is legal in two of the 22 states in which the NFL operates.

  11. Mark Appel had the best start of his pro career last night

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

    Mark Appel AP AP

    Astros prospect Mark Appel was terrible at Single-A and then there was a weird quasi-controversy about him throwing a bullpen session in Houston, but now the former No. 1 overall pick is thriving at Double-A.

  12. HBT Daily: Alex Gordon and the Royals keep on rolling

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    Alex Gordon and the Royals fly under the radar, but here they are, on top of the AL Central.

  13. Tony Cingrani unlikely to pitch for Reds again this season

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    Tony Cingrani Tony Cingrani

    Cingrani has been on the Triple-A disabled list since late June with a strained shoulder and recently had to halt the start of a throwing program due to continued discomfort.

  14. Diamondbacks expect Patrick Corbin to be out until June of next season

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Patrick Corbin AP

    “He’d probably punch me if heard me saying that but you’re really going to take your time and make sure he’s ready to go.”

  15. Mike Napoli followed Manny Ramirez’s footsteps by going fifth deck in Toronto

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Mike Napoli Getty Getty Images

    Napoli became just the eighth visiting player to hit a homer into the fifth deck at Rogers Centre in the ballpark’s 26-year history.

  16. We are in the Golden Age of Awful Ceremonial First Pitches

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.52.11 AM

    Another doozy was uncorked in Houston last night.

  17. Marlins’ 0.48 ERA reliever Bryan Morris has a hip injury

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    Bryan Morris Marlins Getty Images

    Right-hander Bryan Morris has been ridiculously good for the Marlins since they acquired him from the Pirates for a draft pick in June, posting a 0.48 ERA in 38 innings. But now he’s hurt.

  18. Andrew McCutchen expects to play today

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    andrew mccutchen getty Getty Images

    The Pirates need McCutchen more than any playoff contender needs any single player.

  19. Angels may pursue Trevor Cahill as Bartolo Colon alternative

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Trevor Cahill Getty Getty Images

    With an $11 million salary for next season Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon is apparently out of the Angels’ price range as they try to upgrade the injury wrecked rotation, but Diamondbacks right-hander Trevor Cahill could be an option.

Featured video

Alex Gordon, MVP candidate
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (4890)
  2. D. Ortiz (2892)
  3. Y. Molina (2520)
  4. M. Cuddyer (2300)
  5. J. Soler (2197)
  1. Y. Darvish (2110)
  2. M. Machado (2052)
  3. J. Baez (2027)
  4. B. Colon (2007)
  5. J. Benoit (1981)