With Dallas Keuchel off the market, James Shields is the biggest name left unsigned, but the San Diego Padres should resist going near their former starter.
When Dallas Keuchel signed with Atlanta on Thursday, that left James Shields as the most high-profile starting pitcher left on MLB‘s open market. While he might be tempting to some Padres fans due to the team’s current rotation woes, the last thing the Friars should do is bring Shields back to San Diego.
There’s no denying that the Padres’ starting core is a mess; they’re incoherent from start to start, and they don’t have a clear number-one to anchor down the rotation.
James Shields was expected to be the number-one starter when the Padres signed him before the 2015 season. He was supposed to be a big part of A.J. Preller’s massive overhaul, agreeing to a 4-year, $75 million deal that was the biggest free-agent contract in Padres history at the time.
But Shields completed only one full season in San Diego.
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Coming off a season in which he was on the American League MVP ballot (albeit 18th), Shields lasted a season and a half with the Padres before they traded him to the White Sox in the middle of the 2016 season.
It was a quick demise for someone who was supposed to be a building block of the “new” San Diego Padres.
Shields left San Diego with a 15-14 record and a 4.00 ERA. In 269.2 innings pitched, he surrendered 258 hits according to Baseball Reference—that’s basically a hit every inning.
Where things got even more concerning was when looking at his averages over nine innings: 2.2 walks and 0.8 home runs.
When Shields was on, he was on—but it was equally likely that he wouldn’t be, and would be extremely hittable. In his last start before being traded to the White Sox, he gave up a whopping ten runs in 2.2 innings. It was pretty telling that the guy who was supposed to be the Padres’ ace was considered the number-three starter by Chicago.
It’s true that the Padres are in desperate need of a reliable starter, preferably one with veteran experience to help push an increasingly younger roster into playoff contention. Starting pitching is a key component of every contender, and right now it’s uncertain as to whether or not the Padres’ starters are cut out for that.
But Shields just didn’t deliver during his time in San Diego. And would he be either a short-term, half-season rental or is he looking for a Craig Kimbrel-esque contract where a team commits for multiple years? Either way, the Padres would almost certainly be investing more than Shields’ numbers in a Friars uniform say he’s worth.
And if you’re still on the fence, here’s this: trading James Shields is what brought Fernando Tatis Jr. to the Padres. That’s certainly not a trade any Padres fan would want to take back right now.
For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres’ 2019 season, continue following Friars on Base.