Update: While Analyst Scott Miller reports that Shields and the Padres are at an impasse, ESPN's Jim Bowden notes that Shields just has to decide if he will accept the Padres' last and final offer.
The James Shields sweepstakes may finally be coming to an end. It was reported on Monday that Shields was expected to sign by the end of the week, and according to MLB Network Radio Analyst Scott Miller, talks between the San Diego Padres and the veteran free agent starter have been 'heating up.'
Since the start of the offseason, Shields has been seeking a contract worth at least $100 million. However, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal believes the deal he will receive will likely be in the $70-$80 million range. While San Diego's interest has increased, Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego reported on Friday night that the Padres had not been in contact with Shields' agent for at least 24 hours, although that could change quickly.
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 has drawn a notable amount of interest from teams looking to upgrade their starting rotation this offseason.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported on Monday Shields would like to remain on the West Coast, making the Padres a logical option. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman also noted earlier in the week neither the Athletics nor the Giants are interested, and that the Angels are not seeking an upgrade at this point.
Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is reportedly looking to upgrade the front of his rotation, and signing Shields would do just that. The Padres have also been linked to Cole Hamels, however Rosenthal did not believe San Diego would have the prospects necessary to get a deal done.
The Padres have been extremely aggressive in upgrading their roster this winter, and Robbie Erlin, Odrisamer Despaigne, Brandon Morrow, Brandon Maurer, and Josh Johnson will have an opportunity to earn back of the rotation starting spots this spring. Shields is a consistent option, which the Padres may need with Andrew Cashner never making more than 26 starts in a major league season, Tyson Ross quickly developing, and Ian Kennedy entering his walk year.
San Diego has upgraded its roster this offseason, and a deal for Shields can get done quickly. The only remaining question is if the squad can afford him.