James Shields: Are Blue Jays Interested?

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It has been a while since we’ve had a juicy Blue Jays rumor to get excited about. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports has decided to help us out with that. According to the well connected scribe, the Blue Jays have renewed interest in free agent James Shields.

Rosenthal tells us that his major league sources tell him the Blue Jays have regained their interest in Shields since his price has dropped. It would appear that it has dropped significantly. Previously, he was after a 5yr/$110M deal. In fact, the word was he has such a deal in hand. But, either he didn’t want to play for that team or he never had such a deal. Since the winter has dragged on and he is still without a home, he may be considering a 4yr/$70M-$80M instead.

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That could bring him right into Toronto’s price range. Now, Rosenthal acknowledges that the Blue Jays have limited dollars to work with for a free agent pitcher, or anyone for that matter. Could the club work out a cleverly structured deal like they did with Russell Martin to facilitate a deal that could put them in a position to begin the season as possible favorites in the AL East?

Previously, I had outlined why the Blue Jays should be pursuing James Shields. Among the benefits, he brings 200+ innings which is something that the Blue Jays covet dearly. Adding Shields would give the Blue Jays 3 workhorse starters in R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Shields who can give the club 600 or more innings. 

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  • The addition of Shields would also go a long way to address the pitching depth that has taken a hit this winter. With J.A. Happ, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin all being dealt away, the depth of the rotation is not as strong as it was when the 2014 season ended. Adding Shields would create another spot for a starter on the depth charts.

    That means that Aaron Sanchez would be the rotational odd man out. But, that could be a blessing. Sanchez could then compete for the closer’s job. Admittedly, many (including the Blue Jays) feel that his future is as a starter. But, many closers were billed this way. Sanchez has downright filthy stuff. But, in his young career, he has had difficulty going through a lineup 2-3 times. The closer’s role would allow him to come in and go all out. It might be the most bang for his buck. This would also allow the Blue Jays to stop pulling their hair out trying to find a closer that fits their budget. With several options still available to them, none may be more appealing than the much cheaper rookie. 

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    The Blue Jays are lacking a true #1 starter. Dickey and Buehrle are stalwarts, but do not fit that category. Marcus Stroman certainly has the stuff and the make up to be a #1, but is only entering his 2nd year in the big leagues and first as a full time starter. Shields would give this rotation a leader and an ace. He is well known for his work ethic and preparations. He could be a great help to youngsters like Stroman and even Drew Hutchison. He brings many things that do not end up on the score card. These are the things the Blue Jays look into when they do their homework. Alex Anthopoulos looks into the person and the player. Rosenthal says that he is indeed “doing additional background on Shields, “digging” for information. Exactly what that entails, no one knows.

    At 33 years old, James Shields is looking for his last big paycheck. It may be that his idea for just how big that paycheck should be is changing. If it does, the Blue Jays may find themselves in the mix for his services. He certainly has the pedigree to help them compete in the AL East.

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