The White Sox, who are in the market for starting pitcher, are balking at the price tag for the San Diego Padres’ James Shields. Should they go all in?
The Chicago White Sox started strongly this season, challenging the two time defending American League champion Kansas City Royals in the American League Central. However, Friday, May 13 may have been the last lucky day for them. Since that date, they have lost 12 of 15 and have fallen a full game back of the division leading Royals. Sometimes, when a team is skidding, a trade can be something that rights the ship.
The White Sox’ recent talks with the San Diego Padres to acquire starter James Shields reflect this desire to make a big splash while also shoring up their starting rotation. Along with the team going into free fall, starter Mat Latos has also gone off the rails in May, posting a 7.06 ERA, after a 1.84 ERA in April. Though left hander Carlos Rodon (4.24 ERA) has been better lately, the White Sox might consider Shields a better option.
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The White Sox were originally thought to be possibly dangling their number two prospect, shortstop Tim Anderson (.727 OPS in 200 AAA at-bats). Further reports indicate that Anderson won’t be included in any deal. The White Sox are also said to be considering including starter Erik Johnson (4.50 ERA in 98 career innings) in a potential deal along with lower level prospects. Logically, the higher quality the prospects, the larger chunk of Shields salary will be paid by the Padres in any deal.
One thing the White Sox would be getting is a very durable pitcher. He has made at least 31 starts a season since making that many in 2007. One might think that Shields 3.06 ERA this season was a product of the Padres’ huge park, but Shields’ road ERA is 2.33, compared with 3.58 at home. Shields 2-6 record this season is due to the Padres’ scoring just 1.8 runs per game in his starts. The Padres would likely want a starting pitcher in return for Shields. Right-handed starter Tyson Ross has been sidelines with shoulder inflammation since his first start of the year in April.
Before the season, the White Sox were surprisingly relieved of a $13 million salary for first baseman Adam LaRoche who suddenly retired over an issue of clubhouse access for his son. Starter John Danks was released in early May, which was a loss of $15.75 million in salary but that comes off the books in 2017. The following year, Melky Cabrera‘s $15 million will come off the books for the 2018. The Shields contract could be paid without too much of a payroll bump.
With a 110 OPS+ for his career, Shields is not really an elite starter, but he is the kind of experienced innings eater the White Sox need to stop their slide and regain the lead in the highly competitive A.L. Central where four teams are within four games of first place.