Marlins would have their own “big three” with James Shields


Free agent pitcher James Shields remains unsigned by a Major League team, and he has been ambiguously linked to the Miami Marlins this whole offseason.

With news that the $110 million deal with a “mystery team” is off the table, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins may still be in on the 33 year-old:

Who knows what the market price for Shields will end up being, but it might be less than we thought. The Marlins 2015 payroll stands at around $65 million right now, and it’s unclear if they would be able to lure Shields to Miami. With Giancarlo Stanton owed a huge salary in a couple years, the Marlins won’t have the payroll flexibility it might have right now, so a deal for Shields would have to be a short term investment.

Would Shields, owner of a 3.69 ERA and 3.3 WAR in the American League last year, be willing to sign a one or two year pact with the Fish? The team should pitch its “win now” mentality; he could be the piece that puts catapults the Marlins to contender status right away, and would give the city of Miami a brand new “big three.”

Right now, either Mat Latos or Henderson Alvarez are slated to start on Opening Day. Latos posted a 3.25 ERA in 16 starts in a 2014 season cut short by injury. Alvarez had a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts, including a league-best three complete game shutouts, and was named to his first All-Star game. The 24 year-old led the Marlins pitching staff with a 4.6 WAR.

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Both pitchers would be at least number two starters on most MLB rotations, and could be the aces of several as well. If Shields were signed, he would probably get the nod on Opening Day, with Latos and Alvarez to follow in games two and three. The Marlins would have one of the most formidable one-two-three punches in baseball.

The Miami Heat broke up its big three this summer, so this is the Marlins chance to conjure up one of their own.

And lest we forget about Jose Fernandez, who is due to rejoin the rotation mid-season. With Fernandez and Shields pitching back to back every five games, the Marlins would have arguably the best staff in baseball. A top four of Fernandez, Shields, Latos and Alvarez combined for 18.0 WAR in their last full seasons. With Jarred Cosart (2.39 ERA in ten starts for the Marlins in 2014) pitching behind them, you would be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded rotation in either league.

Of course, this could all just be a pipe dream. The Marlins have traditionally shied away from signing big free agent pitchers, but it’s also been a long time since the team was this close to contending right away. We can only hope Jeffrey Loria realizes this; he has the funds to make it happen. And soon we could very well see October baseball in Miami once again.

Next: Marlins Rumors: Fish may not be completely out on free agent James Shields