The San Diego Padres have reached an agreement with free agent right-hander James Shields, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo. The deal is reported to be for four years in the $72-76 million range, with a fifth year club option also included. The contract is pending a physical.
Sources: #Padres in agreement with James Shields on four-year deal. Includes club option for fifth season.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 9, 2015
The Padres had been the leading suitors for Shields for a number of days now, with Bleacher Report's Scott Miller first noting that talks between Shields and the Padres were "gaining momentum." Shields' market was slow to form, as he was the last of the offseason's big three starting pitchers to latch on with a new club, with Jon Lester joining the Cubs in December and Max Scherzer landing with the Nationals last month. A number of other teams were reported to be in the race for Shields, with the two most prominent clubs being the Cubs and Marlins.
The addition of Shields caps off an impressive offseason overhaul for a Padres team that went 77-85 in 2014 and hasn't reached the postseason since 2006. Over the course of the winter, the Padres added Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Brandon Morrow, Matt Kemp, Will Middlebrooks, and Justin Upton, among numerous others.
Half of the Padres' eight starting position players were not in the organization before December, and now Shields will join Morrow in revamping San Diego's rotation. Shields will immediately usurp Andrew Cashner atop the Padres' rotation, and should join with Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, and Morrow to form a potentially outstanding crop of starting pitchers.
The 33-year-old Shields has been among the best, and most steady, pitchers in baseball over the past four years. Since the start of 2011, he has averaged a 3.17 ERA, 124 ERA+, 3.49 FIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and 4.1 WAR in 233 innings pitched. He has been the true definition of a workhorse, topping 200 innings in each of the past eight years, included at least 227.0 in the last four.
Interestingly enough, Shields will now become teammates with the very same player he was famously traded for (Wil Myers) prior to the 2013 season. After arriving in Kansas City following a seven-year stint with the Rays, Shields was everything the Royals could have hoped for, as he helped guide them to within one game of the franchise's first World Series title since 1985.