February 09, 2015

James Shields, a bargain for the Padres

James Shields,
Padres bargain
First, let me say that for every intelligent commenter at a place like Hardball Talk, there's at least one idiot, it seems, and James Shields' free agency has proven that in spades.

Just a couple of days ago, people were saying he didn't deserve more than two years, and a number of people were saying, in essence, "his arm's gonna fall off."

Wrong and wrong.

His deal, estimated at about 4 years and $75 million plus an option year (presumably one that vests with performance targets) is very reasonable.

First, as for his arm falling off? Shields only has 110 more career MLB innings than Cole Hamels, the subject of rampant trade rumor lust and rumor. That also gets to the payment issue. Hamels has 4/96 left on his contract. The Padres save more than $20M and also pay just one comp draft choice rather than 2-3 prospects.

At the same time, contra Craig Calcaterra at HBT? His own site reported last week that San Diego G.M. A.J. Preller had a budget limit of a bit over $100M for this year. The Shields contract puts them firmly at that limit. Unless Ruben Amaro eats a chunk of Hamels' contract (unlikely), he's not going to the Padres. You know better, Craig. We also can't forget that the Dodgers' partial buyout of Matt Kemp's contract is for this year only, so I really don't see SD taking on more budget.

Back to Shields' contract.

Two years ago, the same age Shields is now, Kyle Lohse got 3/33 from the Brewers, the equivalent of 3/40 today, and he's nowhere near the pitcher Shields is. And, earlier this offseason, Ervin Santana, one year younger and almost identical career innings, got 4/54 from the Twins and he's nowhere near the pitcher Shields is.

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