After making just ten starts since being acquired via trade, it appears the White Sox are willing to trade James Shields. As our Chris Cotillo first reported earlier in the week, Shields is “drawing some trade buzz” in advance of Monday’s deadline.
As a member of the Padres earlier this season, Shields struggled. In 67.1 innings Shields allowed 32 earned runs on 69 hits and 27 walks while striking out 57. The Padres, who were falling out of contention, decided to trade away Shields to the White Sox back in early June. While the Padres retained $31 million of the potential $58 million price tag attached to Shields, they still managed to get a somewhat underwhelming return of Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Since being acquired, Shields hasn’t really impressed that much either, though pundits are pushing a ‘last six starts’ narrative. In his ten starts with the White Sox, Shields’ ERA, FIP, strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate have all taken hits. That being said, his first four starts with the team were atrociously bad.
In his first four starts, Shields managed just 13.2 innings of work and allowed 24 earned runs. Since then, Shields has pitched 42 innings over six starts and allowed just eight earned runs on 32 hits and 12 walks. That being said, his strikeout pace still seems to be missing as he has only managed 21 over that time frame.
Shields is under team control through the 2019 season but has the ability to opt-out this offseason. He is due to make $21 million over each of the next two seasons and has a $16 million team option for the 2019 season.
Since Shields has already been traded this season he is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer this offseason if he does choose to opt-out. That means the team that potentially signs him wouldn’t need to surrender a draft pick. Furthermore, the weakness of the impending free agent class—especially at pitcher—could help Shields’ decision to use his opt-out and look for another longer-term deal. While he is guaranteed $44 million beyond this season, Shields could likely find more on the open market.
Teams rumored to be looking for starting pitching help include but are not limited to the Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Marlins, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Giants, and Dodgers. With that many potential suitors, the White Sox are faced with a seller’s market and a legitimate token.