James Shields trade rumors
The Rays figure to go through some signficant offseason changes and one of the names being tossed into the rumor mill is pitcher James Shields. Besides Shields, the Rays have four solid starters in David Price, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis. And then there's Jeremy Hellickson, who is on the verge of a spot in the rotion. That means the Rays could be looking to deal a starter and Sports Illustrated's top-notch baseball writer Tom Verducci has some thoughts on Shields. Verducci writes:
The Rays love his work ethic, leadership and reliability. Shields is one of only three pitchers to throw 200 innings in each of the past four seasons in the AL; the others are Justin Verlander and Mark Buehrle. But as Oakland did, the Rays have an inventory of starting pitchers that allows them to trade him. Shields is coming off a tough year (5.18 ERA) in which he gave up too many home runs and struggled with fastball command in the rough and tumble AL East. The guy is a breakout waiting to happen in the NL under a reasonable contract ($4.25 million in 2011, plus three option years).
The Rays made early exits with Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson, turning them into young (and cheaper) hitters Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce, and they could follow the same formula here. Possible suitors include the Rockies, Nationals, Pirates and Mets.
Just as a side note, in the same column, Verducci speculated the Marlins could deal second baseman Dan Uggla. Not long after, the Marlins shipped Uggla to the Braves. Click here for Verducci's column.