Thursday, July 28, 2016


The Yankees better pay attention to this one.

James Shields may be on the market again. The powerful right-handed starter, who the San Diego Padres traded to the Chicago White Sox less than two months ago, is now at the top of the leader board in trade rumors. The White Sox have become sellers in this market, and the Yankees may have a chance to make a major steal.

Okay, Shields may not be the pitcher he once was. But he is still a respectable starter and given that the Padres are eating half the cost of the rest of his guaranteed contract, he is more than a good bargain. Right now his 4.68 ERA - of which his American League half is a meteoric 5.17 - is driving his price down. That's not to mention his 1.480 WHIP and his opponents' OPS of .811. So where is the value? The devil is in the details, my friends. All those numbers are over-inflated by his first three appearances in a White Sox uniform and his final appearance before the Padres traded him. It was a terrible 3-week slump that makes him look far worse than he is. Without that stretch, his ERA on the season falls to 2.66 and his opponents' batting average is a paltry .236.

The downside on Shields is that he is 34 years old and we have seen a drop in some of his pitching stats. According to PITCHf/x data, the average velocity on his fastball has dropped 2 mph over the last two years and his cutter seems to have lost some of its sharpness. That's not surprising for a pitcher at this age. My guess is that he is adjusting to his new limitations, which may explain some of his ineffectiveness from the end of May to early June. Still, he pitched six consecutive quality starts, and that says something about his current state.

The last thing to remember is his durability. During the time of his first full season in 2007 until now, he leads of all baseball in innings pitched (2111) and games started (318). Given the Yankees track record of injuries, he might be the perfect pitcher to help bring stability to the rotation. The Yankees have less than a week to figure this out. But if the White Sox are putting him on the block, Brian Cashman better be dealing.

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