Sam Mellinger has eight quick takes on the Shields signing:
From the Royals perspective, the tempting thing is to line up all the dollars here and declare a winner. Assuming the money is evenly distributed, Shields will make about $18.75 million in 2015. That is more than any two Royals pitchers will make combined. But it’s not as simple as that. The replacement for Shields was never going to be the free agent they signed. The replacement for Shields is Yordano Ventura. The replacement for Ventura is Danny Duffy. The replacement for Duffy, perhaps, could be Volquez, but the point is the Royals were never going to sign a free agent the caliber of the one they let go.
Hunter Samuels would have liked to have brought Shields back, but thanks him for his services.
There is no question that Shields would have presented an improvement to the current version of the 2015 Royals. In fact, he would have improved every single team in baseball, which makes his delayed signing even more confusing, but I digress. The Royals could have used Shields, and at the price he agreed to, it wouldn’t have been a crippling hit to the payroll. I’m not going to suggest the team made a huge blunder in not bringing him back – we don’t know what their final offer was, anyway – but it would have been great to see Shields back on the mound at the K this year. Still, Shields had a tremendous impact on the Royals in the past two seasons, and they are defending American League Champions due in large part to his work on the field and in the clubhouse. The organization was changed immediately upon his arrival, and the effect he had will be felt for several years to come.
Did the Royals make a run? Our own Shaun Newkirk has SOURCES.
Now that he's signed I think this is okay to say. I had a #source that said the Royals offered Shields 4/$65-$70M back in December— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) February 9, 2015
Jon Heyman corroborates.
David Brown at CBS Sports thinks Shields will miss the Royals defense.
Going by the best measures we have, the Royals played the best defense in the majors in 2014. They accumulated 74.8 runs above average, including an adjustment for position, to lead the league. The Padres finished 12th, at 5.8 runs. ..
The Padres outfield defense figures to be a relative weakness, too. Upton has slipped over the past two seasons, Myers hasn't played a lot of center field in the majors and Kemp's metrics make him look like someone who should be a DH. It's no Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain.
Dave Cameron at Fangraphs writes that James Shields could do for the Padres what he did for the Royals - help give them relevance.
Like with the Royals acquisition of Shields, I think there was probably a better path forward for the Padres than taking Kemp’s contract, trading for a rent-an-Upton, and hoping that outfield defense doesn’t matter before signing an aging pitcher whose strikeout rate is quickly going the wrong way. But the 2014 Padres were completely irrelevant in a way that the 2015 Padres have little chance to be, and we can’t ignore that side of the equation either. I think this experiment is likely to fail, but we have to capture the magnitude of the value of success to fully evaluate the decision to go for it.
Even if it’s 80-85 percent likely that the Padres don’t make the playoffs this year, the rewards from simply being relevant are perhaps high enough to justify the risks. This is baseball’s equivalent of throwing a 50 yard bomb in football; you don’t expect it to work that often, but you still run high risk/high reward plays, since the value of one or two catches outweighs the cost of seven or eight incompletions.
The Padres have put themselves in a position to potentially be the 2014 Royals or 2013 Pirates. They’ll need some things to break their way, but if a few things click, they could be playing meaningful baseball in September and maybe even October.
A.J. Cassavel of Sports on Earth writes that the Shields signing caps off a winner of an off-season for the Padres.
Sure he's 33, and he struggled mightily last October, but he was the overworked ace on a team that asked him to throw 252 innings (including postseason) and more pitches than anyone else in baseball. Some tiring down the stretch was to be expected.
What is also clear is that Shields' fastball velocity is intact. According to FanGraphs, his average fastball of 92.5 mph last season was the highest it's ever been. And his changeup -- easily his best pitch and probably one of the better pitches in the game -- had an average of about 9.3 inches of movement, half an inch above his career mark.
Those aren't the numbers of a pitcher in decline
Jeff Passan writes that Shields fell into San Diego's lap through strategic bumbling.
After Lester signed, Shields could have pounced and ramped up negotiations. GMs expected that parry. They held firm, figuring Odle would lessen his demands. That never happened. Shields ended up in San Diego of his own volition, because had he budged earlier, executives believe he would have received plenty more. There’s a reason no pitcher had signed for more than $50 million in February: No pitcher was foolish enough to wait until February to sign. Most teams, at this juncture, have locked-in budgets that need special dispensations to move. San Diego happens to be in the midst of a complete overhaul, so general manager A.J. Preller walked into negotiations with monetary flexibility – and the knowledge that were he to whiff on Shields, he could trade for Cole Hamels.
Aaron Gleeman doesn't see a whole lot of daylight between James Shields and Jon Lester, although Lester will be paid about $100 million more.
James Shields, 2012-2014: 683 innings, 3.29 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 7.9 SO/9 Jon Lester, 2012-2014: 638 innings, 3.65 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 7.9 SO/9— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) February 9, 2015
There is a lot of mileage on that arm though.
The Royals will get four picks in the top 100 of the draft this June, with $7.5 million to spend on the first ten rounds.
Jason Ultischan of the KC Post says "thanks for the memories."
I loved seeing him come off the mound screaming, yelling and releasing his controlled rage of competitiveness. I loved seeing players like Kelvin Herrera and Brandon Finnegan following suit and doing the same thing. I loved seeing him wait for Gordon and Cain to come off the field so he could high five them for a game saving play. I loved seeing players like Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas follow suit and do the same thing. I loved seeing his leadership and his attitude.
It’s this reason alone that I would like to thank James Shields. Thank you for helping the team, the coaches, and the city believe again. Thank you for giving us the confidence to wear Royal blue in December. Thank you for helping us feel proud about our baseball team. Thanks James and good luck to you in San Diego. You’ll always be a Kansas City Royal.
Jeremy Guthrie says goodbye.