James Shields has signed a 4 year, $75 million deal with the San Diego Padres. We all knew that he wouldn’t get Jon Lester money, but we didn’t know there would be this much of a difference, at least in the average yearly value. Lester gets almost $26 million, while Shields gets a little under $19. It seems like MLB GMs correctly realized that Shields is not even close to a guy like Lester.
The interesting thing about the Shields signing is that his numbers all came down to whether the Red Sox or Yankees wanted him. Since they didn’t, his market fell, because very few teams were willing to shell out the kind of money that you give to a decent ace or great number 2 pitcher in today’s MLB.
The Padres are the beneficiary, though, because they get an ace for roughly the price of a 3 WAR player — and that number will decrease with time, inflation, and increased player salary spending in the league, and he’s a 3.5-4 WAR player right now. Add in the facts that Shields has pitched in the AL East and is now moving to the NL West, he’s apparently a good clubhouse guy, and the Padres need an ace, and this deal is a no brainer for them. In that division and in that ballpark, 2 years of 9 total WAR would not shock me in the slightest, and that would pretty much make the contract worthwhile by that time. Shields is already 33, but 4 years isn’t too long that his age would be a reason not to do the deal.
San Diego is a pretty interesting team now, and the Shields contract is to thank for that one. And good for the MLB GMs that they didn’t overpay for a guy like this, the way many, myself included, had thought they would because of the rising player salaries and the demand for pitching.