At the start of 2015 the Padres signed their largest free agent in club history: James Shields. Though he did certain things well in 2015 like lead the club in innings pitched and a few other categories, it was a definite down year for the intense pitcher who just the previous year had led the Royals to their first World Series appearance in 29 years. Now that expensive contract might have a better shot at being moved.
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As illustrated by Jeff Sanders, spending on pitching this off-season is getting higher than ever before. Teams are flush with big TV contracts and wasting no time in spending it. The Arizona Diamondbacks shelled out a contract worth over $200M on Zack Greinke.
Many thought that Shields poor season and the $65M remaining would be impossible to move – but it may be a little bit easier based on the current value of pitching in the market. Especially if he gets off to a good April or May.
Shields has an opt out clause after 2016, where eseentially if he thinks he can get a better deal than what the rest of his contract is he can try free agency. It is how Zack Greinke got his big payday this off-season. Next year the biggest pitchers on the market will be Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Shields snugs up pretty high on that list, and with a good season he might be able to get more money after all.
This would help the Padres tremendously, as many thought the Padres would have to eat much of the remaining contract in any deal for James Shields. The Dodgers can afford to do that for Matt Kemp, the Padres do not have the payroll ability to be paying for players that aren’t on their team any longer. They went to great lengths last year to not do that for Carlos Quentin, even paying an absurd amount for fourth outfielder Melvin Upton Jr.just to not have to release and eat Quentin’s $8M.
There is still four months until Opening Day, but watching where James Shields ends up this season or how well he pitches to change his value for next will be a big story to watch for the 2016 San Diego Padres.