During the Free Agent Slot Machine segment of Hot Stove this morning on the MLB Network, Ken Rosenthal said that free agent pitcher James Shields will end up with the St. Louis Cardinals. Shields is the biggest free agent pitcher still on the market outside of St. Louis native Max Scherzer.
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This does not mean that Shields will sign with the Cardinals. It was merely speculation offered on Rosenthal’s part. See tweets here and here as Rosenthal clarified his comments after Twitter caught on fire.
This is what Rosenthal reported on Shields the other day:
"Two execs say it is their understanding that Shields has a five-year, $110 million offer and is looking for an even higher guarantee. But others say that if Shields actually has such an offer, he should take it."
The pitcher is 33 years old and as Rosenthal notes, he’s pitched eight consecutive seasons of throwing 200 innings or more.
During the 2014 campaign, Shields posted a 14-8 record with a 3.21 ERA. During the postseason, Shields was less than stellar with a 6.12 ERA. In nine seasons, Shields has a career 114-90 record with a 3.72 ERA. The veteran has struck out 1,626 batters in 1910.1 innings pitched.
With all of this information out of the way, I just cannot see the Cardinals signing Shields for the rotation. The bullpen is already stacked with pitching arms. There are already two pitchers competing for the final spot in the starting rotation: Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales. One of these two is going to end up in the Cardinals bullpen.
Don’t get me wrong. Shields is an impressive pitcher. He’s finished in the top twelve in Cy Young Award voting in two of the last four seasons. Given the amount of arms in the Cardinals rotation and bullpen, not to mention those that are nearing their St. Louis debut, I just don’t see a spot for Shields in the rotation.