James Shields Rumors: Marlins Pursuing Ace, But Price Too High?


After trading Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and not knowing if Dan Haren will ever pitch for the team, the Miami Marlins could be a starting pitcher short of a contending team in 2015. While the team did a great job of acquiring Mat Latos, the team still needs a number 3 guy to slot behind him and Henderson Alvarez, and ahead of Jared Cosart and Tom Koehler.

So who can the team pursue?

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Jim Bowden of ESPN Tweeted that the Marlins are still hoping for Haren to report to Spring Training and are in pursuit of James Shields.

While the idea of adding Shields seems nice, we have to remember that Shields is still one of the marquee names left on the market and could still command a hefty price tag.

In fact, according to Ken Rosenthal, Shields could have an offer of 5-years, $110 million already on the table. That’s a price that could scare the Marlins off, as Rosenthal points out in his article.

"The bottom line: Certain clubs have backed off Shields due to the expected price, according to major-league sources. The Marlins and Diamondbacks are among those teams, sources say."

I am torn on the idea of signing Shields. While a $110 million contract would be excessive for his services, the Marlins are close enough to contention that an overpay like that could make them contenders in 2015. But what about beyond 2015? Shields is 33 and headed towards the back end of his career.

Last season for the Royals, Shields threw 227 innings, his fourth straight season of over 127 innings. He posted a 3.21 ERA and an 3.59 FIP, good for a 3.7 WAR. While Shields did strike out a career low of 7.14 hitters per nine innings, he also walked a five year best of just 1.74 per nine.

A move to the National League, especially the NL East, would certainly aid his numbers, as well.

The average annual salary for a 5-year $110 million deal would be $22 million a season. If we estimate a win to be worth $7 million, Shields would need to produce just over a 3 WAR each season for the duration of the contract to justify the deal.

Last year, Fangraphs estimates Shields was worth $20.5 million for the Royals, with his 3.7 WAR and 3.9 RA9-WAR.

Shields would be an interesting add to the Marlins rotation, likely making the team an instant contender. However, the money that would be necessary to get a deal done is something that could make it difficult for the Marlins.

The team would likely be better off passing on Shields and aiming for the free agent pitching class of 2016.

Next: Do the Marlins have the best middle infield in the NL East?