The San Diego Padres should trade James Shields. Why you ask? James Shields makes $21 Million dollars this year. And next year. And the year after that. So the San Diego Padres should trade him.
Because they signed him to a contract that was a necessary dollar amount and length to get someone to come to San Diego. The first big, multi-year contract handed out to a free agent who had other options since the 2005 re-signing of Brian Giles. In 11 years. He willingly came to San Diego to pitch. So, they should trade him.
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Yes, he gave up 33 home runs last year, but he also struck out 216 batters last year and threw 202 IP, good for fifth and tenth in the NL. He’s on pace to give up between 20 and 22 home runs this year, which is right in line with his career norms, so can we please dispense with the home run happy moniker that so many writers have hung on him? 2015 was an aberration for homers in a distinguished career for a good pitcher.
This year he is striking out 7.79/9IP, which is in line with his career average of 7.85, and his FIP (fielder independent pitching on an ERA scale) is 3.90 with his career mark being 3.83. Bottom line is the 2016 James Shields is exactly what the San Diego Padres bought when they signed him.
So, why trade him? He makes $21 million and people cannot fathom that high of a number in San Diego. That’s why. 2005 was the last free agent signing of the same magnitude and that was for a San Diego native (the Giles brothers first plied their wares at Granite Hills) who was resigning with the team. 11 years, and all you get is James Shields, and you want to trade him??
This past offseason Mike Leake, he of the FIP of 4.59 and 5.49K/9IP in 2016 and the career ERA of 3.88 got a five year $80 million contract from the ever smart St. Louis Cardinals. Wei –Yin Chen got the same length and dollars with his 4 years in the majors and his career 3.77 ERA. Chen is wowing with a 4.37 ERA this year and peripherals similar to James Shields.
The point is, you’re not going to get a better pitcher than Shields. Not for the dollars or length of the contract, and if you ship him out of town 200 games after he believed in you, well, you better believe other free agents are gonna take notice and it’ll be another 11 years before we sign another big free agent.
There is nothing in the gold mine of 2017. Not a single pitcher I would take over James Shields. The free agent class of 2017 consists of Jered Weaver (5.43 ERA) Edinson Volquez (No thanks, I like my games under 4 hours) and Doug Fister (327IP/197K in last 3 seasons). So, you pay James Shields $21 million and you like it because there is nothing else to spend your money on and you need starting pitching. There is no reason to trade him.
There is no alternative to Shields, and, frankly, he’s pretty good. Starting pitchers who routinely take the mound and give you 200IP every year are rare. In fact, going back to 2011 he leads the majors in IP and is 5th in the majors in strikeouts. If you want that performance, you pay for it. You don’t pay for it and then have buyer’s remorse.