New York Yankees Rumors: James Shields Coming To The Bronx?


New York Yankees Rumors: Will Bronx Bombers Make A Splash and Sign James Shields?

With Spring Training right around the corner, most impact free agents are already signed and ready to go. There is one still remaining though in starting pitcher James Shields. Shields is the last big named free agent remaining, deciding to wait until other top flight starters Max Scherzer and Jon Lester signed instead of taking a deal early in the offseason. That strategy seems to have backfired a little, as Shields still remains unsigned while Scherzer and Lester have shiny new nine-figure contracts with new teams. But will that be changing sooner than later?

Rumors are beginning to swirl that Shields is close to signing with a team. Numerous teams have been linked to Shields throughout the offseason, but many of them have recently said they are no longer in the running. Teams like the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals flirted with the idea of adding Shields, but have backed off recently. Now the remaining teams look to be the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and New York Yankees.

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This isn’t the first time the Yankees are linked to a big name starter this offseason, but it is the first time they haven’t come out and refuted reports that they were. The Yankees and Padres have supposedly been in contact with Shields’ agent Page Odle recently according to rival executives.

That could give some insight to the reports that FOX Sports Jon Morosi says that Shields has multiple offers in hand, and should make a decision this week. There were also reports earlier in the offseason that Shields had a $110 million offer on the table, yet he still remains unsigned so there is also a grain of salt that needs to be taken with these kind of reports; sometime there is no truth to them, and it is just agents of the players talking up their client to drive up the price.

There is no way to gauge what Shields offers look like currently, but it definitely is peculiar that teams such as the Boston Red Sox are out of the Shields sweepstakes while the Marlins and Padres are still supposedly heavily involved.

Getting back to the Yankees though, this is not surprising to see them involved in Shields. The Yankees starting rotation is a mess, filled with as many question marks as any rotation in the MLB. Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are all injury risks. Newcomer Nathan Eovaldi will have to adjust to the American League after a couple of rough seasons in the National League, and it would be tough to imagine a turnaround for him like Brandon McCarthy had last season for the Yankees. Chris Capuano was solid, but is an underwhelming option.

Shields would be a major upgrade for the Yankees, as he would slot into the two-spot behind Tanaka if everyone is healthy. Health is the biggest question mark for the Yankees, which is why Shields would be the clear cut No.1 on this staff because you know what you are going to get from him; durability and production.

Shields has been a workhorse wherever he has pitched, clearing 200 innings pitched for eight consecutive seasons, going at least 215 innings every season except 2010 when he had “only” 203.1 innings pitched. No Yankee reached 200 innings pitched last season, and the player who got closest, Hiroki Kuroda, is no longer with the team, returning home to Japan to finish his career.

Since 2009, only one other pitcher, A.J. Burnett reached 200 innings for the Yankees other than Kuroda and Sabathia, so it is something the Yankees should welcome with open arms. Burnett hasn’t pitched with the team in multiple seasons, and Sabathia is a shell of his old self.

In addition to the innings you know you will get from Shields, it is also a good bet that he will perform, just not eat ineffective innings. Over the past four seasons, Shields has pitched to a 3.17 ERA, going 58-39 which is top of the rotation numbers for any team. Those numbers came after two down years for Shields, as he compiled an ERA of 4.14 and 5.28 in 2009 and 2010, showing that he has righted the ship and would be a great addition to the top of the Yankees rotation.

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What the Yankees are willing to pay is another question. Scherzer and Lester were out of their price range as they try and continue to cut salary. There is almost zero chance that the Yankees will give Shields a nine-figure contract, but would something along the lines of four-years and $80 million get it done?

It will be something worth keeping an eye on for the Yankees. They have aging players, and adding a 33-year old Shields may be counterintuitive to trying to get younger, but he would present a big upgrade on the roster. The Yankees have a shiny new bullpen, headlined by Andrew Miller and if they want to keep them fresh during the season signing a player like Shields would help immensely. Unlike the rest of the Yankees starters, you know what you are going to get from Shields every fifth day.

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