Here is what I cant believe: its February, and were only sixteen days away from Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers reporting to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale to being Spring Training, and there are still big name free agents out there, namely James Shields! I really dont know how this is possible.
Starting pitching is always needed, so you think that by now some team would have stepped in and offered him a good enough deal.
All the insiders and experts in the baseball industry thought that he would sign fairly quickly, and for a lot of money. Most people thought his contract would be in the $110 million dollar range.
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Now it seems like that his price has dropped into the $50-$60 million dollar range. If a team truly wanted to give him a long term deal in the $100 million dollar range, they would have signed him already.
On the one hand, it makes sense that his price has dropped. Shields is entering his age 33 season, and he has thrown over 200 innings for the past eight seasons.
Many teams are hesitant to give him a lot of money because he could injure his throwing arm because he has thrown so many innings. Teams are also hesitant to give him the extra fourth year, because your stuck paying him for an extra year as he ages.
There are many teams still interested in Shields including the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, Padres, Astros, Marlins, and the Cardinals.
If we base what is going on with Shields market with the concept of supply and demand, then what Shields is experiencing doesn’t make sense.
With so many teams involved, the demand is clearly high for a pitcher of Shield’s caliber especially considering he is still available. Supply and demand usually says that if the demand is high than the price for that commodity is going to be high.
Shields market has done the exact opposite. It has taken a nose dive, and now all the teams that were listed above are sitting in the 3 year $50-60 million dollar range because of the factors I laid out earlier.
In order to sign Shields, its probably going to take a team going the extra mile and giving Shields an extra year and a little more dough. The opportunity cost of signing Shields is that your adding a veteran starter who can lead a young staff, and produce consistently at the same time.
That is more valuable than the possibility that he will decrease in production, and get injured because he has been consistent over the past eight years, and he has been healthy. Dave Stewart has to be willing to take risks to get something this team desperately needs.
Shields strikeout rate has dropped, but he made up for that last year by improving his command. From 2013 to 2014, his K/9 decreased from 7.71 to 7.14, but his BB/9 also decreased going from 2.68 to 1.74 respectively.
Without Shields, the Diamondbacks “ace” would be Josh Collmenter. He hasn’t pitched more than 150 innings in one season. Shields is an innings eater, and that would benefit the Dbacks. He also has playoff experience, and can mentor the other Snakes starters.
If Shields price has dropped, and the Dbacks could get him for 4 years and $70 million, than they could get a true no.1 at a cheaper price, and for less years.
When Stewart decided to bow out of the Shields sweepstakes, it was because he thought his price was increasing. It has done the exact opposite.
The Dbacks should jump in. If the Dbacks wait till 2016 to go after Johnny Cueto or David Price, they could benefit as well. Bronson Arroyo and Trevor Cahill‘s contracts would come off the books, and the Dbacks would have an extra $24 million to spend.
However, Price and Cueto are going to demand contracts in the $100 million dollar range. If the Dbacks choose to wait till the winter of 2016, there giving up the chance to compete this year, which is not what Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa wants.
If the $24 million dollars owed this season to Aaron Hill and Cahill is preventing the Dbacks from competing, than I hate Kevin Towers even more than I already did.
Either way, the Diamondbacks need a proven ace at some point in order to contend, and if the Dbacks want to compete this year like La Russa has said, they cant wait till 2016, and that means increasing payroll.
Shields is projected by FanGraphs to be a 3 win above replacement player in 2015. In this day and age of competitive balance, three wins can make the difference in competing and not competing.
That is why the Dbacks should take advantage of the drop in the asking price for Shields and go after him. I cant think of a team that needs him more.
Many of you will say that the Diamondbacks cant compete this year, and that is why Stewart and company shouldn’t go after him, but that is irrelevant. The Dbacks as an organization believe they can compete. If that’s the case, they need to pursue Shields.