Will the Rays Trade James Shields?

One of the best pitchers available this off-season may have just been pulled off the market. With Matt Moore expected to grab a spot in the rotation, many expected James Shields to be available this off-season. That may no longer be the case, however, as CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler reported the Tampa Bay Rays are “dead-set against trading Shields.” While the Rays could choose to trade a starter other than Shields to free up a spot for Moore, Shields would provide the best return. With Moore ready to enter the rotation, are the Rays making a mistake by taking Shields off the market?

If the Rays decide to keep Shields, it’s tough to really criticize them. Shields is coming off his best season as a pro — in which he racked up eleven complete games. On top of that, Shields is still under team control until 2014, is relatively cheap and is pretty damn good. The Rays were a playoff team in 2011, and keeping Shields makes them a strong threat make a run at the post-season in 2012. With Shields, the Rays seem to have all the leverage.

Because of that, this report may a smokescreen. The Rays front office rarely reveals or leaks their strategies to the media. The fact that this report came out should be somewhat of a red flag to fans that follow the Rays closely. This has led to some of the Rays’ fans at FanGraphs speculating that this report may be an instance of the Rays trying to boost Shields’ value before trading him away. If this report is nothing more than a ploy to get more value in a Shields deal, it’s another savvy move by one of the best front offices in baseball.

The Rays also have a history of this type of behavior. Last off-season, the team faced an eerily similar situation with Matt Garza. Even though the Rays had leverage with Garza, they realized he was the pitcher that could bring back the biggest return in a trade. In order to get their young prospect into the rotation — in this case, Jeremy Hellickson — the Rays dealt Shields Garza to the Chicago Cubs for a bevy of prospects.

The Rays used a different tactic in the media with Garza — letting teams know he was available — which may have caused teams to offer more competitive packages for Garza. As a result, some analysts thought the Rays got a better package of prospects for Garza than the Kansas City Royals received for Zack Greinke — a superior pitcher.

No matter what they decide to do, this seems like a win-win situation for the Rays. If they actually want to keep Shields, they retain a good, cheap starter for another season. Shields presence makes the rotation stronger and gives the Rays a good chance at making a run at the post-season next year. If this report is nothing more than a ploy to get a team to break the bank for Shields, that obviously has huge benefits for the Rays. Teams looking to acquire Shields should be cautious. As the Rays have already shown, when they have leverage, they are one of the most dangerous front offices in baseball.



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


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DropDaDeuce
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DropDaDeuce
4 years 7 months ago

“the Rays dealt Shields to the Chicago Cubs for a bevy of prospects.”

RedSoxThoughts
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Good article, but at the end of the fourth paragraph, I believe it should say “The Rays dealt Garza the the Cubs”, not Shields.

Snark
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Snark
4 years 7 months ago

What you believe it should say isn’t correct either.

RedSoxThoughts
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4 years 7 months ago

Haha, you’re right. Darn typos catching everyone today

bonestock94
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bonestock94
4 years 7 months ago

Regardless of how awesome Matt Moore is expected to be, I feel the Rays are too good to trade away Shields. They have proven their ability to make a run at any time and shouldn’t be sacrificing the present for the future.

Barkey Walker
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Barkey Walker
4 years 7 months ago

It’s odd, really, that you can’t trade present for present and must trade now for future.

An idea trade for the Rays might be a great first baseman, with their contract fully paid–but you never see that deal. i.e. the Nats have two first basemen for 2012 (though neither fully paid is enough for Shields), but if they decide to trade to, i.e. the white sox, they will probably also get prospects instead of players for 2012.

chiefglockandhummer
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chiefglockandhummer
4 years 7 months ago

as a braves fan, i’ve thought a lot about this the last few years. my dad would always say “can’t we just trade jurrjens for an outfielder?” and the answer is “no.” (He would actually say “can’t we just trade jurrjens for prince fielder?” but that’s neither here nor there.) because there’s no other team that would benefit from trading a 3-win outfielder for a 3-win pitcher. you have to trade jurrjens for prospects even though we want to win now and had/have an outfield problem.

K
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K
4 years 7 months ago

So basically: The Rays are smart because saying Garza was available helped get offers! The Rays are smart because saying Shields isn’t available will help get offers!

We get it. The Rays FO is smart. But really, we don’t have to do this with every single thing they do.

Philip
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Philip
4 years 7 months ago

After I read those two statements I thought that exact thing.

Barkey Walker
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Barkey Walker
4 years 7 months ago

Chris Cwik, what is the point of the article? If it is to make that point, then… that point should be made. But as it stands it is just double talk.

Sandy Kazmir
Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Well the Rays said they weren’t going to trade Garza either until they did. Teams might have known he was available for the right price, but every Rays player is available for the right price.

Wade8813
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Wade8813
4 years 2 months ago

I had the same reaction after reading that, but to be fair, sometimes deliberately going a different direction might be best.

If your team constantly says someone isn’t available, then trades them, teams will start ignoring you (and it might mess with the players and fans too much). So mixing it up might be the way to go

K
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K
4 years 7 months ago

Anyway, in re: trading Shields… Only if they get some kind of proven MLB talent back. The offense is 2011 is unfortunately going to resemble the offense in 2012 and 2013 so their best shot at winning is either getting a Logan Morrison type or just saying f*** it and going with Price-Shields-Moore-Hellickson for two years before the budget prohibits keeping both Price and Shields (which could be before the 2013 season, and if not, definitely before 2014).

Barkey Walker
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Barkey Walker
4 years 7 months ago

Maybe they could trade Shields to Prince Fielder in exchange for his service and he could get the money for the Shields contract.

Mitch
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Mitch
4 years 7 months ago

More likely they trade Price actually.

Brad Johnson
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4 years 7 months ago

I was wondering that myself, but I just can’t imagine a team matching the required prospect bounty for Price.

I think we’re more likely to see Wade Davis shift to Andy Sonnanstine’s role.

Jross
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Jross
4 years 7 months ago

I think Davis would make a better RP than long RP.

Brad Johnson
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4 years 7 months ago

That might be the case, but I think the Rays might be more comfortable keeping him prepared for a longer role in the short term in the event of injury. He’s probably still the best #6 option in the organization.

Dekker
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Dekker
4 years 7 months ago

For a couple of spot starts the Atlanta Braves called up Julio Teheran before his September call-up in order to prevent a starter from pitching on short rest. They also called up Delgado for one spot start for the same reason. The organization knew they shouldn’t “give away” even a single game.

Starting Sonnanstine four times was inexcusable for a contending team. Doubly inexcusable if Matt Moore is in the minors. The Rays have, arguably, the best front office in all of baseball. They almost played the first 5 months to be respectable instead of being a surefire contender. The service time issues of starting Moore a couple games is almost negligible. The same issue goes for Jennings. He obviously should have gotten a call-up around the beginning of June over Fuld. The organization wanted to dely his super-two status (which will probably go away anyway) beyond any doubt and allowed Fuld to be exposed unnecessarily. That looked like an organization that would (rightfully) be praised for being in the mix… rather than thriving. Due to their excellent front office, The Rays had the pieces to thrive in 2011. Not giving Moore spot starts and delaying Jennings nearly costed them a playoff birth.

The Rays should trade Shields. He makes a lot of money (though still a team friendly deal) and have Moore to take his spot. Young pitchers like Moore are bound to be strikeout machines, and with the defense and pitcher friendly park, he has the opportunity to succeed. If Moore was trusted to start Game One of the playoffs and come out in relief on three days rest, I don’t see how the organization doesn’t trust him to be on the opening roster as the fifth starter. By trading Shields to either get a catcher, SS, or 1st baseman, they also free up money to shore up the bullpen. There is the obvious question of starting rotation depth, but let’s be honest… to get to the playoffs in the AL East, you practically have to go all in.

Brad Johnson
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4 years 7 months ago

Don’t assume Super 2 will go away immediately. I would expect current players to be grandfathered in, meaning that super 2 would be calculated through at least 2014.

jtmorgan
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jtmorgan
4 years 7 months ago

When Sonnastine made those spot starts Matt Moore was simply not ready. He had made abiout a move thath of starts in AA. 2011 was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The Rays have to worry about Super-Two because they realize that bringing up Price a month early will have been a $18-20MM mistake they simply can’t afford.

2 AL East Championship banners hanging in the rafters prove that you don’t have to go all-in to get in the playoffs, and once that happens anything can happen.

jtmorgan
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jtmorgan
4 years 7 months ago

He had made about a month of starts in AA.**

IvanGrushenko
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IvanGrushenko
4 years 7 months ago

“you don’t have to go all-in to get in the playoffs”

True, the 2007 Brewers and 2008 Twins proved this as well

MC
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MC
4 years 7 months ago

You have to remember that few people (except for myself, if I may say so) predicted the Rays to post a good record, let alone get into the playoffs.

As I recall at the time you’re talking about, the Rays were in third place. Few people expected them to be able to jump over the BOTH the Red Sox AND the Yankees.

Whereas with the Braves they were as a I recall fighting for the wildcard pretty much the whole season.

AndyS
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AndyS
4 years 7 months ago

With this kind of shallow FA market, how could you NOT at least listen to offers for Shields?

Scout Finch
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Scout Finch
4 years 7 months ago

Good lord! 11 complete games! Did Shields step out of a time machine from yesteryear? Almost 250 innings for just about 5 WAR in the AL East is some yeoman’s work.

Maybe the Rays need a beast like him to gobble those innings and keep the pen strong (and cheap). But with those innings and 30 years old next year, it’s possible last year was a peak performance and right now is his zenith value.

Won’t this value go up by a small margin after the CJ Wilsons and Edwin Jacksons go off the board ?

tdotsports1
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4 years 7 months ago

Meh.

Signed, Roy Halladay.

Scout Finch
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Scout Finch
4 years 7 months ago

Well, yeah.

Shields is no Halladay like Quayle was no Kennedy but that’s almost 99percentile stuff.

tdotsports1
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4 years 7 months ago

true talk.

Pat
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Pat
4 years 7 months ago

Would Allie, Alvarez, and Starling Marte get it done for the Pirates? I would absolutely love to have a pitcher of his caliber on the Pirates. I wanted them to buy low last year but I guess Tampa wasn’t selling. They are also a dangerous team to trade with.

Jross
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Jross
4 years 7 months ago

The Bucs are trying to build with their prospects right now. So trading for Shields doesn’t make sense.

Jonathan C. Mitchell
Member
4 years 7 months ago

That’s not nearly enough for Shields, in my opinion.

Jonathan C. Mitchell
Member
4 years 7 months ago

With Price being predicted to make $7.8M as a super-two I see him being more likely to be dealt than Shields and the Rays could get a great return for him.

I, as a Rays fan, want to see a rotation of Shields-Price-Moore-Hellickson-Cobb/Davis and trade Niemann/Davis/Cobb for a bat. Rays have the pieces in place to still contend and be potential studs next year.

Brad Johnson
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4 years 7 months ago

Who matches up prospect wise for 4 seasons of Price (several at a steep discount?

Let’s go by division:

The Yankees match up. The Red Sox might but are probably light on the prospects. The Blue Jays do. The Rays would need to “Win” deals with any of those clubs though. Orioles don’t match.

The Nationals are a good fit. The Marlins lack the prospects but have room on the MLB side. The rest of the NL East is out.

Nobody in the AL Central is a strong match. Maybe the Royals? Nobody else has the prospect bullets/can afford to deal them.

The Reds could make a deal with Mesoraco and Alonso involved. They might be the best fit in baseball. Cards, Stros, Brewers, Bucs, and Cubs either can’t make the move or won’t.

The Rangers appear to be a fit, the A’s are not, the M’s are not, and the Angels are a bit like the Red Sox, I think they’d like to make the move but wouldn’t be able to swallow the cost.

Finally, the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, D-Backs, and Rockies all appear to be poor fits for various reasons.

Altogether that’s 5 teams that might be able to afford Price and have the players to trade. The Yankees and Blue Jays can almost certainly be dropped from the list. That means for the Rays to deal Price, they’d need a large bounty from either the Rangers (probably too confident), Reds (too uncertain), or Nationals (focused on more cost effective moves). Doesn’t seem likely that anyone ponies up.

Hank
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Hank
4 years 7 months ago

The Nationals are focused on cost effective moves? I think they could contend in 2013 for a playoff spot, have the money to pay Price (or Shields) and might be willing to give up one of their pitching prospects along with a position prospect to set up a Strasburg/Price(or Shields)/Zimmerman rotation.

Would Rendon and Peacock get it done? Rendon and Cole? (and fill in some B level guys)

jason
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jason
4 years 7 months ago

In defense of the Greinke trade, Matt Garza was not demanding a trade, or once he got his wish, turning down Washington (or another team presenting a better package) as a destination.

ecp
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ecp
4 years 7 months ago

What Jason said. Greinke threw a temper tantrum, demanded a trade, fired his agent when the agent helped broker a trade to Washington (which would have been a better deal for the Royals), and threatened not to show up to spring training if he wasn’t sent to a team he approved. The Royals didn’t exactly have a lot of leverage in that situation.

Paul
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Paul
4 years 7 months ago

Not to mention that the Royals did better in that deal than the Rays did in the Garza deal. And that Greinke is not better than Garza, especially if you want to count this thing called last season.

MC
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MC
4 years 7 months ago

@Paul-Garza is very very good, but I would take Grienke over Garza any day of the week. Grienke is simply one of the elite pitchers in the game. I don’t really care what he did last season. How many bad seasons has Josh Beckett had (true he pitches in the AL east but still)?

As for not wanting to play for the Nationals, who does?

Arendell
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Arendell
4 years 7 months ago

Well “IF” they are thinking of trading him for 3 or 4 top of the line players, let them look at the C. Reds. Great match, up!! 1st base,Y.Alonso, C Y,Grandal & A. Chapman LHP. and ask for an A level as well. Good young talent an Cheep. like thay need it to be,And they can control them for many years.

Kampfer
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Kampfer
4 years 7 months ago

I think a Price for Votto trade actually makes great sense here. Look… Price is a premium young ACE. The Reds only has a bunch of solid number twos. There is only one pitcher who produced 2 WAR or more last season. The Reds, though, has Yonder Alonso who can take over at first base and produce, possibly, 2 WAR. This year’s OF market is really crowded with cheap average OFs. If the Reds sign some 2 WAR OFs to play RF and LF(Andruw Jones is still good and cheap and GAB sounds like a park where Jones will shine), replace Votto with Alonso(6.9-2 = 5 WAR loss), replace Woods/Willis with Price (4 WAR gain plus better chance to survive October if they can make it), I think the Reds has good chance to contend next year.

MC
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MC
4 years 7 months ago

If you are the Reds why would you make the deal? You’re giving up too much and your team has too many holes.

adohaj
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adohaj
4 years 7 months ago

I don’t see votto moving for any pitcher

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
4 years 7 months ago

I bet they listen to offers and if they’re blown away, then they trade.

However, at 7M Shields is a great value. He won’t likely ever pitch as well as he did last year, but he should still be at a surplus value next year.

Anyone have an estimate on the likelihood of Shields being class A/B?

Rays will probably assess what they think they could get with a class A comp, a class B comp, then assess the chances of either of those, and use that to gauge how good the deals are. Probably good old Beta scores like in finance.

MC
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MC
4 years 7 months ago

I think they’re really just not going to trade him. It makes little sense-he’s locked up till 2014. If they do, I imagine the return will have to be similar for what Oakland received for Danny Haren, considering the quality of the pitcher and the number of years of team control left.

But I would imagine the Rays feel that they can keep James for a year or two and, when other starting pitching in the farm is more developed, say Chris Archer, deal Shields and still get quite a good return for him, even if they do so with just a year before team control ends.

Conor Gallogly
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Conor Gallogly
4 years 7 months ago

What about Upton and Shields for Votto?

Mitchener
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Mitchener
4 years 7 months ago

2011 could be Shields career year. Their are no pitchers in 2012. 2013 is a totally different story. If Rays wait a year then he could drop down in performance and they may not get that much of a return. Also you would have John Danks, Matt Cain, Greinke, Hamels, Haren, Santana and Anibal Sanchez as equal or better options on the market.

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