The thinking is that the Blue Jays would be more interested in a one-year rental than a player who won’t become a free agent until after 2015. The acquistion cost for a player who will become a free agent after this year is likely less than the price of a pitcher like Samardzija or David Price, who would both come with nearly two years of team control.
The Jays saw Shields just last night and hit him hard for six earned runs including three dingers. However he’s top of the rotation material and would be a huge upgrade for a rotation that is pitching well but also running extremely thin at the moment.
Heyman also mentions Justin Masterson, Francisco Liriano and Jason Hammel as potential targets as all three become free agents after this season. He doesn’t say what the price might be for Shields but I wouldn’t expect the Royals to just give him away. After all it’s not just the Blue Jays who could use a starter with pitching injuries running rampant across baseball. Heyman adds Shields might not even be made available as the Royals could keep him with hopes of acquiring a comp pick if he leaves through free agency.
However it does make sense for the Blue Jays to make a push this season if the price is in fact right for Shields. GM Alex Anthopoulos was quoted as saying in a recent article by Peter Gammons that his payroll was pretty much “maxed out” but clarified that although the payroll number was set to start the year it could be increased if necessary if the team is playing well before the trade deadline (h/t John Lott, National Post)