Cafardo: Blue Jays among teams to show interest in James Shields


A lot of attention on the free agent market will quickly turn to Max Scherzer and the mega contract that he’s likely to end up with from one bidder or another. However, there is at least one other starter still on the market that is likely to generate some noise in the coming weeks, a man named James Shields.

According to Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo, a man who includes the Toronto Blue Jays on nearly all of his Sunday Baseball Notes, the Jays have “had discussions or shown interest” in James Shields. Of course, Cafardo also says the same for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Needless to say, the Blue Jays don’t have an exclusive angle on the speculation here.

The market for “Big Game” James has been relatively quiet for most of the winter, with various whispers and rumors being spoken from time to time, but nothing concrete being attached to any one team. However, that could change quickly and a pitcher like Shields isn’t about to float around on the market the way that Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez did a year ago.

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At 33-years-old, Shields is in his last hurrah on the free agent market, and as such won’t command the mega deal that a Scherzer or Jon Lester will. Gone are the dreams of 7-8 years, but a 4-5 year deal from the highest bidder will likely be in the offing. Of course, any team that signs him will also have to forfeit a draft pick, and in the Blue Jays case, that would mean a second round pick, having already lost their first round pick when the signed Russell Martin earlier this winter.

Still, that shouldn’t frighten off would-be suitors. Shields is coming off of his second-consecutive solid season in Kansas City, posting a 14-8 record, a 3.21 ERA, a 7.14 K/9 ratio, and a1.74 BB/9 mark. He also posted his eighth consecutive season of 200 innings or more, proving his durability. Advanced indicatiors like FIP (3.59), xFIP (3.56), SIERA (3.59), and the usual suspects of WPA (1.07) and WAR (3.7) were also friendly to the right hander.

If the Blue Jays managed to lure Shields to the Great White North, it would almost assuredly mean that Aaron Sanchez starts the year in the bullpen as the team’s closer. It would also give the Blue Jays an ace at the top of the rotation, as well as a solid mentor for young arms like Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison, the aforementioned Sanchez, and Daniel Norris.

Still, that’s a big “if” for the Blue Jays, but it would provide a nice bookend to an already solid winter that has included the additions of Martin, Josh Donaldson, and Michael Saunders.

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