Oct 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning during game one of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
114-90, 3.72 ERA, 22 Complete Games, 9 Shutouts, and an average of 227 IP / season
91-50, 3.58 ERA, 1 Complete Game, 1 Shutout, and an average of 208 IP /season
One of those stat lines belongs to “Big Game” James Shields, the other to Max Scherzer. Shields made $13.5MM in 2014, while Scherzer made $6.75MM in 2014, which pales in comparison. However, the free agent market is going to be much kinder to the 30 year-old Max Scherzer than it is to the 33 year-old James Shields. And that’s fair.
James Shields has had a solid career thus far, and helped an upstart Kansas City Royals team reach game 7 of the 2014 World Series. He posted very solid numbers last year: 14-8, 3.21 ERA, and 227 IP. But does that tell the whole story? James’ 2014 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was a very solid 3.59. However, the 3.59 FIP suggests that his 3.21 ERA for 2014 was a tad “lucky.” This is most likely because the defense of the outfield behind me was some of the best MLB had seen in decades. A 3.59 FIP is still very, very solid, however.
If you can, try to ignore a pitcher’s W/L record, as it isn’t truly representative of what a pitcher brought to the table in each game. Allow me to explain. In 1987, a pitcher had a 2.76 ERA, 34 GS (Games Started), 211 IP, and a FIP of 2.47 with 270 K’s. Astonishing season, correct? Not if you look at W/L, which was an atrocious 8-16. The pitcher? Nolan Ryan. The reason? Run support, or lack thereof.
Ignoring W/L record, Max Scherzer and James Shields have been on parallel career paths for years, with Scherzer a couple years Shields’ junior, therefore having less statistics with which to compare. However, with both pitchers entering free agency after the 2014 season, one is due to most likely become the highest paid pitcher in baseball, while the other (Shields) has a very good chance of making less than his 2014 $13.5MM.
Now, I want you to imagine a scenario where Shields pitches in Sedona Red for two years, through his age 34 season (December birthday). In this scenario, he brings us solid numbers – 3.85 ERA (3.70 FIP), 3 Complete Games, 1 Shutout, and 410 IP. In this time, he is able to not only be the Diamondbacks’ staff “ace” but is also available to help ‘groom’ young pitchers like Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, and Touki Toussaint. After all, there’s a reason James Shields is nicknamed “Big Game James” and if he could be present to help teach our young top 3 (the aforementioned) how to pitch under pressure, then I think making him a 2 year/$20MM offer is well worth every penny.
Arizona is not trying to rebuild per the ‘old-school’ five year mentality. They are ready to win, and win now – which is why Tomas was signed, and Dave Stewart has made every effort to acquire pieces to help this team in 2015, 2016, and beyond. Win now? Let’s do it.
Shields is durable, consistent, and can eat innings at the top of the rotation which is something the Dbacks desperately need. Last season, only two pitchers, Josh Collmenter, and Vidal Nuno went over 120 IP. Shields has had eight consecutive seasons of at least 200 IP.
James Shields to Arizona rumors were first reported by Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.