While I realize that the White Sox could use pitching help, I don’t think it makes sense to add Padres starter James Shields.
The White Sox need to add a starting pitcher, but Padres’ starter James Shields is not the answer. Let’s look at the reasons why.
First of all, Shields is 34 years old. This team needs to add players who are in their prime if they intend to compete not only for this season but over the next several seasons. To compete for division titles, the White Sox will have to avoid starting pitchers in decline (which is what Shields is).
According to his stat sheet on ESPN, Shields used to throw 220 IP plus a few years back (249.1 IP in 2011), however, last season he only threw 202.1 IP. I understand the fact that just over 200 IP is good. However, he isn’t completing games (only one since 2014) and allowed 33 home runs in 2015.
That total is awful when you consider he pitched half of his games in Petco Park, which is heavily tilted to the pitcher. He also pitches several games at Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park, and the ball doesn’t exactly fly out of those two ballparks either. To top that off, Shields has already allowed nine homers this season, which means he is on pace to allow only a few less homers than he did last season.
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Second, the horrible contract is not worth the problems it will bring. According to spotrac.com, he has $21 million on the books for this season (some already paid), which means he is well overpaid for the rest of this year. On top of that, Shields is owed the same amount for each of the next two years, meaning if the White Sox were to acquire Shields, they would be taking on another John Danks.
Keep in mind Shields would have a good chance to be better than Danks. However, his contract could hamstring the club from making other moves to improve the ballclub in the future.
Now, the Sox could negotiate a way for the Padres to pay some of the money owed to Shields. However, if they were to do that, the Sox would have to give up something of greater value in return. That wouldn’t make sense because they are getting a declining pitcher who has a bad deal.
Overall, the White Sox would be upgrading the rotation marginally by adding Shields.
The only way the White Sox could be saved in any of this is for Shields to opt-out after 2016, which is unlikely because he still has a considerable amount of money owed to him.
Overall, the White Sox would be upgrading the rotation marginally by adding Shields, but there are so many issues involved that it doesn’t make sense to acquire a player that will hurt the team long-term.
Listen, the White Sox need to add pitching help. Shields would assist them in that regard. However, they need to look in other areas, because different pitchers will be available as the season wears on.
The White Sox need to wait until it becomes evident that this slump isn’t a mirage. Assuming that is the case, by all means make some moves. Just don’t get James Shields.