According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Tampa Bay Rays “seem dead-set against trading” starting pitcher James Shields. Entering the offseason, Shields was viewed as one of the top arms on the trade market. Rumors had the right-hander available due to the Rays bevy of young arms. But, according to Knobler, it looks as if clubs may have to take Shields off their list of trade options this winter.
Because of Shields escalating cost and the Rays up-and-coming starters, rumors were tying the 29-year-old to many different clubs in need of pitching help in 2012. You had to look no further than the end of last season to see why some would think Tampa Bay could make do without Shields.
Matt Moore posted a pair of impressive starts in September for the Rays. First, with their season on the line, Moore pitched Tampa Bay past the Yankees. The 22-year-old held New York scoreless over five frames, surrendering only four hits while striking out 11.
Moore then managed to outdo himself against another potent offense. In the opener of the Rays’ ALDS matchup with the Rangers, Moore shutout Texas over seven innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight batters.
These performances as well as Moore’s impressive work in the Minors convinced many that Shields was an expendable piece for the Rays.
Shields had his best season in 2011, finishing the year with a 2.95 ERA over his 249 1/3 innings pitched. The All-Star went 16-12 and led the Majors with 11 complete games. Shields struck out more than eight batters per nine innings for the second year in a row and maintained a WHIP of 1.043.
These numbers can be used in arguments for and against trading Shields.
Tampa Bay could be considered smart for selling high on Shields, who posted ERA’s of 4.14 and 5.18 in 2009-10. They have Moore ready to step in and the free agent market for starting pitchers is weak. Looking at their recent team salaries, it could be hard for the Rays to fit Shields, who has a pair of option years remaining for 2013-14 worth a combined $22 million, into their plans.
On the other hand, Tampa could decide to trade another starter to make room for their young talent. This would allow the club to move forward with Moore and Shields in their arsenal as they vie for another playoff berth in 2012.
Rumors figure to continue to swirl around Shields and the Rays, as the club hasn’t confirmed their intentions and isn’t likely to do so anytime soon.
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