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Padres likely to include cash in James Shields deal

Rival evaluators believe the Padres will have to pay a significant portion of Shields' remaining contract.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Update -- In a potential Shields deal, the Padres are expected to pay a significant portion of Shields' salary, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

Original -- San Diego added James Shields and Craig Kimbrel to its roster to compete in 2015. However, the Padres have struggled and are prepared to deal major league pieces, and according to ESPN's Buster Olney, both Shields and Kimbrel are likely to be dealt before the end of the month.

Olney adds he was told the odds of a Shields deal happening are 75 to 90 percent and a Kimbrel deal is expected before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Although he has established himself as a top of the rotation arm, dealing Shields might be challenging given his back-loaded contract. He is due $4.1 million for the remainder of the season, $63 million from 2016-2018, and has a $16 million option ($2 million buyout) for 2019. Shields can opt out after next season, however, and as a result might prove to be more cost effective and beneficial than a rental player such as Cole Hamels.

Shields, 33, has proven to be a consistent arm within the Padres' rotation this season, posting a 3.92 ERA and 4.21 FIP over 121.2 innings. He made 20 starts and posted a 3.21 ERA and 3.59 FIP over 227.0 innings last season. The Astros, Blue Jays, Royals, and Tigers are all known to be seeking starting pitching and a large market team such as the Dodgers might also become interested.

While Shields could prove to be a valuable addition to a contending club's rotation, Kimbrel could be a quality closing options for teams seeking late inning relief help. At 27, Kimbrel has posted a 3.15 ERA and 2.57 FIP over 34.1 innings and has saved 24 games. He saved 47 contests for the Braves last season and posted a 1.61 ERA over 61.2 innings. Dealing Kimbrel might be challenging, though, as Tyler Clippard, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jonathan Papelbon are also being shopped.

At 43-49 in the National League West, the Padres are hoping to inch closer to five hundred. But that likely will not stop them from dealing several major league pieces.