James Shields has yet to make a decision on where he will pitch in 2015, and that may not come soon. Pitchers and catchers report at the end of February, however Shields does not seem to be in a hurry. In fact, Shields has officially defeated Prince Fielder.
In 2012, Fielder took a significant amount of time to make a decision with regard to his future before accepting an extensive contract with the Tigers. The deal was officially agreed upon on January 26, and Shields is still unemployed on January 30. Alas, Shields topped Fielder.
Shields, 33, posted a 3.21 ERA and 3.59 FIP in 227.0 innings pitched with the Royals last season. He is a durable option, and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported earlier in the week that Shields is now expecting a four or five-year deal worth $70 or $80 million, and that he would ideally like to pitch for a Western team. Shields does not appear to be close to making a decision, but several teams remain interested.
The Cardinals remain in on Shields after losing out on both Jon Lester and Max Scherzer. Scherzer's contract could affect the deal Shields gets, but regardless, St. Louis was only willing to pay Lester $120 million according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. That offer was $50 million more than the Red Sox offered last spring but $30 million short of what the Cubs offered.
Heyman notes Shields is in a position to take a four year deal, but that Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak is confident in his rotation and is not concerned about depth. Ultimately, the Cardinals could be among the teams only interested in Shields if the price drops.
Shields resides in San Diego, which might make the Padres an attractive option in his eyes. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported this week the two sides are "on the periphery" of talks, however Cole Hamels, who also grew up in San Diego, is thought to be the Padres' ideal target.
Miami continues to quietly make sense for Shields because of the uncertainty with regard to the Dan Haren situation. Haren will report to spring training, but still prefers a trade, and the Marlins will be without Jose Fernandez until June or July.
General Manager Dan Jennings and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez both came from the Tampa Bay organization, and Shields might make an improved roster notably better.
The Astros were in on Ryan Vogelsong, and reportedly made him an offer comparable to the $4 million proposal San Francisco made. Vogelsong publicly noted he was not comfortable with Houston's approach, and as a result, the Astros are still seeking pitching.
Toronto is interested but waiting for the price to drop. If Shields does not sign soon, the price may only continue to decrease.
Detroit really would have liked to resign Scherzer, and the club may be interested in Shields until it is certain an extension with David Price is realistic. Shields pitched well in the American League Central after departing from the East.
Boston Red Sox
Heyman reports General Manager Ben Cherington is happy with the rotation, and while the Red Sox have already added Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson, adding Shields could lead to Boston being considered the favorite to win the division. Shields is familiar with the American League East, which might be an advantage.
General Manager Doug Melvin told reporters the Brewers have not reached out to Shields, however after trading Yovani Gallardo, the team could use a front of the rotation arm. Jimmy Nelson is expected to take a rotation spot, and Milwaukee is more concerned with improving its bullpen at the moment.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals remain a possibility, however it is not likely that Shields returns to Kansas City.