White Sox: James Shields Won’t Opt Out of Contract
As expected, James Shields declined to opt out of his contract. The White Sox acquired him this season in a trade with the San Diego Padres.
Chicago White Sox pitcher James Shields will not opt out of his contract according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. However, the news doesn’t come as a surprise. Statistically, Shields had the worst season of his career, posting a 6-19 record and 5.85 ERA. He has $44 million remaining on the four year $75 million contract he signed with the San Diego Padres in 2015. Steve Adams of MLB Traderumors has a nice roundup of the story.
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After one season with the Padres, they traded him to the Sox for right hander Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis, Jr. As part of the trade, the Padres agreed to pay $31 million owed to him. They will pay $10 million in 2017 and 2018, as well as his $2 million buyout in 2019.
The Sox had a chance to trade him at the deadline, but decided to keep him instead. Now, they can only hope the right hander can rebound and have a better 2017. That shouldn’t be hard considering his struggles throughout the season. Hopefully he can be a serviceable back-end starter next season. If not, there’s no way to justify the $10 million the organization will commit to him over the next two seasons. The front office already came under fire when they made the trade, but another poor season will make it even worse, considering Tatis, Jr. was considered to be a future star.
It’s easy to criticize Ken Williams and Rick Hahn for making this trade, after seeing how the season played out. However, he was coming of a decent 2015 season and was actually pitching well to start 2016. In May, he had a 3.09 ERA but got roughed up in his last start with San Diego. Even still, he did eat up innings for the White Sox.
While Shields is past his prime, it’s not unreasonable to think he still has something left in the tank. He was very successful when he was pitching for the Royals. That’s what ultimately led to his signing in San Diego. However, he never really regained form, making him expendable.
The best thing going for the Sox is they are only on the hook for $10 million each of the next two seasons. However, it is possible they can look to trade him during the offseason or even at the deadline next year. Especially if he’s having a decent season and they are out of contention. It’s really a shame they didn’t pull the trigger and send him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Yasiel Puig but there could be other opportunities to move him.
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One thing is certain, Shields will be a part of this team for the next two seasons unless the Sox can dump him somewhere else. There’s always a chance to release him but then they’d have to eat $10 million. I’d rather see them trade him and get something, even if it means they cover a portion of his remaining salary. At least then the Sox wouldn’t be letting $10 million go to waste.