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Rays Rumors: Tampa Bay Willing to Trade James Shields

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 15: Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays checks a runner at first base against the Boston Red Sox July 15, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 15: Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays checks a runner at first base against the Boston Red Sox July 15, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
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Regardless of the team’s focus of buying or selling this summer, the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to trade right-hander James Shields, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com:

Only half a game out of the second wild-card spot but in desperate need of an offensive boost, the Rays are suggesting to teams that they'll be willing to trade Shields, even if they still believe they can compete for a playoff spot.

Knobler notes that Shields could bring the Rays a much-needed bat, or provide them the financial flexibility to add offense in another move.

Shields has taken a step back statistically compared to his monster 2011 campaign. On the season, the 30-year-old has posted an ERA and WHIP of 4.44 and 1.480. Still, one scout told Knobler he expects Shields to be "fine," adding that the right-hander "just needs a different environment."

Knobler believes the Detroit Tigers could offer such a change. He says the Tigers could offer the Rays built around Triple-A catcher Rob Brantly for Shields.

Shields is making $7 million this season and his contract includes $9 million and $12 million options for 2013-14. The Rays appear to have the rotation-depth to withstand a Shields’ trade, including David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb along with the injured Jeff Niemann and Chris Archer, who’s currently in the minors.

The Rays are telling teams "they want to get through this week’s homestand" against the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners before they decide to buy or sell. At this time they could also have a better idea of if and when third baseman Evan Longoria will be able to return from the disabled list.

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Should the Rays trade Shields this summer?

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