I don’t have time to write a full post on this right now, but the fire is hot, so I’m striking.

I read Jeff Todd’s report at MLB Trade Rumors this morning speculating that the James Shields market may be weakening to the point where a team might sign him for $50 million or less. The article provides strong historical parallels, but I’m not convinced a big spender won’t step in at the end.

At lunch, I’m thinking, that the Reds are in exactly the right spot where signing Shields would be a sensible idea if the market has indeed weakened to that point.

A few minutes ago I read a new post from our friends at Red Reporter by Charlie Scrabbles advocating such a thing. His thinking jives with mine. If the Reds have the money to contemplate signing Johnny Ceuto, they have more than enough to sign Shields. Then they could either cash in Cueto right now for 2 or 3 top-tier prospects, or trade Mike Leake for prospects.

Either way, they structure the Shields contract so it doesn’t add much to the payroll minus Cueto or Leake. Or the owner could open up his wallet even further and keep them all and see if they can make a run with Cueto, Shields, Bailey and Leake in the rotation. I say yes. It’s so easy spending someone else’s money.

The Reds should be in on Shields at $70 million/4 years, but it would be much better — and possibly doable — to be in at $55 million/3 years.

What say you, Nation?

66 Responses

    • Tom Gray

      Actually it was your money but now it belongs to the Reds. Tickets, merchandise, concessions all provide revenue from your pockets.

    • John Carter

      Watch the Cardinals slide in and snag Shields. Love the thought of signing him though.

      • Kyle Farmer

        I said this to my wife while we were watching MLB Tonight last night. The Cards really wanted Scherzer and now Shields is dropping right into their laps. Ugh.

      • lwblogger2

        Yep, I think he’ll go to the Cards.

  1. B Eltzroth

    Even going in on Shields for 4 years does not seem like a big risk. He is a very well known commodity and should certainly be able to pitch well for several more years. Would the Reds be getting the Tampa Bay edition or Shields? Of course not. That being said, 4/60-70 is a better deal than the Homer contract with a higher upside.

    • Steve Mancuso

      What you’re not taking into account is age. Shields is already 33, so a four-year deal does carry plenty of risk, especially with a pitcher who has thrown as many innings as Shields has. That’s why I’d go with a higher AAV for 3 years if possible. Homer Bailey won’t be 33 when his contract extension ends. Given their respective ages, Homer has a much higher upside.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Shields’ age and the number of innings on his arm and shoulder are obviously significant factors in the lack of a market developing for his services. I would be uncomfortable at 4/$70MM or 3/$55MM. I’m thinking more along the lines of 4 years at $15MM-$16MM per ($60MM-$64MM). I think the 1st 2 seasons would be serious value and the final 2 years would be a wash in value. Of course that dang injury factor always comes into play. I could even see a 3 year contract with 2 vesting options based on innings pitched the prior season.

  2. vared

    I can’t help but believe if Shields is out there for $50 – $60 million someone other than the Reds will end up with him. Seeing things from a glass half empty perspective based on recent roster moves, or lack thereof.

  3. Shchi Cossack

    I do not have confidence that Cingrani will come back as a reliable starter and that leaves the 2016 rotation anchored by Bailey and four ????’s. At the right price, Shields makes a lot of sense for the Reds, but that would also apply to virtually all 29 of the other starting rotations.

    I still like the Reds chances of making a serious playoff push in 2015 with everyone coming back healthy, so I would be equally happy with keeping Cueto and Leake for at least the 1st half of 2015 to see how things shake out, even if the Reds are able to sign Shields, before putting either or both on the trade market prior to the trade deadline.

    Sometime budgets simply must be expanded to accomodate a totally unanticipated event like the market for Shields collapsing. winning teams and organizations find a way to take advantage of such events.

    • Jeremy Forbes

      I know I like the Reds chances of making a serious playoff push in 2015 a lot more if you replace DeSclafini’s Steamer projection of 4.48 ERA with Shield’s projected 3.63 ERA, and as you said. It also gives some security for the 2016 rotation.

    • Big56dog

      So where were Latos’ projections? Just wondering how they could afford Shields when they could not afford Latos

      • Steve Mancuso

        Not sure the issue with Latos was entirely $$$. But Shields at $55/3 would be less than Latos will sign for. If he gets healthy.

  4. Steve Mancuso

    What would really stink is if Shields falls to the Cardinals at a discount.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Yes and the stinking Birds are the kind of team and organization that finds a way to take advantage of such circumstances.

  5. Jeremy Forbes

    I feel pretty good about Shields heading into his mid-30s. Eight straight seasons of 31+ GS and 203+ IP is about as reliable as you can possibly get, but what really sells me? In 2011 at the age of 29 he was an All Star for the only time in his career. His fastball that year averaged 91 mph.

    Fast forward to 2014 and what was his average fastball speed? 92.4 mph, a career high. Really. Three years older and he actually gained 1.4 mph. Combine that with him lowing his BB/9 down to 1.7 last year and I feel pretty darn good betting on him against the aging curve for the next four years.

  6. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    Man that’d be a pretty darn good front 2 starters with Shields and Cueto at least for this season. I think trading Leake and signing Shields would be ideal in the way that I believe the money difference wouldn’t be that drastic between the 2 if Shields price really has dropped this much. Cueto is out of the question to resign no matter what so I say go for it although I have to admit I’m not very optimistic that such a deal could be had with Shields.

  7. Thegaffer

    This is the opposite of the kind of basic/boring approach this team has taken to player acquisition. Hence, I think there is no way they would sign Shields and trade another pitcher. A deal like this is only made in Fantasy Baseball

  8. zaglamir

    While I don’t disagree with the idea of doing this… it seems like patching the reinforced stern of the boat, while the bow (offense) is taking on water. Yes, having Shields would be a boost, but if you can find a way to sign him, perhaps the money should go into an upgrade at literally any offensive position. The field isn’t deep for offense, but at 3 yrs/50mil, we could certainly add a bat of some sort.

    • Jeremy Forbes

      Kind of missed that market already. The choices left in FA are pretty much Colby Rasmus (hit .225/.287/.448 last year) and Rickie Weeks (will be 32, only hit well at home, had no power vs RHP) as the remaining guys.

      Any serious offensive addition at this point would have to be through a trade.

      • Jeremy Forbes

        Oh, my bad. Even rougher list of remaining talent then.

      • vegastypo

        There’s really nobody left. When it was taking some position players awhile to find jobs, I was hopeful that one of those guys would fall to the Reds or allow for a trade, but Marlon Byrd’s signing kinda ended that dream… But I had no inkling about Shields’ price or number of years dropping far enough to be of any interest to the Reds. Fun to dream, though.

    • zaglamir

      Yeah, I get that the market is more or less shot… but a longer term trade (perhaps trade for a short contract and extend) is more feasible when you have the ability to throw out contract numbers like the ones being tossed around for Shields. I know we have Byrd… but I can always dream that he’ll just be part of an above average bench.

  9. JMO

    A rotation in 2015 consisting of:

    Cueto, Shields, Bailey, Leake and DeSclafani

    Signing Shields would be going all in for 2015 and would provide stability in 2016. If out of it at the deadline, trade Cueto. In this scenario, Cingrani and Iglesias will be in the bullpen.

  10. gusnwally

    34 years old, and almost 2,000 innings on that arm. Anything over 2 yrs, I’ll pass.

  11. Earl

    Shields would be a better signing than the other signings of washed up injured pitchers they have signed this off season . IMO cut parra let Marshall walk and use your farm arms to bridge the 7 th and 8 th innings till it’s chappy time.and we really need a stronger bench

    • lwblogger2

      You’re spending the money on Marshall and Parra already anyway. Cutting them realizes no savings, only frees up the roster spaces. I think you need to see if these guys can help you out. If Parra can be the 2013 Parra, then he’s pretty valuable. As for Marshall, I love the guy but honestly I don’t see him being anywhere near the pitcher he once was. I think the team needs to prove that out though and that means giving him a chance to contribute. If he can’t, then yes, go ahead and release him and free up the roster space.

  12. Eric Sullivan

    Would be nice but Reds can’t afford him.

  13. scheffbd (@scheffbd)

    If the Reds have to trade Leake to help pay for it and it takes 4/$70M + second round draft pick, the price is still pretty high and it’s not that big of an upgrade for this year. I’d only do it if ownership is willing to increase payroll to make one more run before Cueto leaves.

  14. Matthew J. Deitner

    I was wondering at what point the reds might be involved if the salary drops low enough. The cards are one of the teams rumored to have an offer out to him. Don’t forget though that he rejected the qualifying offer and the signing team loses a draft pick. How much is that worth to a mid market team like cincy?

    • scheffbd (@scheffbd)

      It’s worth a lot for any team. The Reds have one of 11 protected first round picks, so it would be a second round pick they’d give up. First rounder for Cardinals, but they were gifted an extra “competitive balance” pick for reasons I don’t fully understand.

  15. jessecuster44

    Sign Shields and trade Cueto.

    • scheffbd (@scheffbd)

      Trading Cueto (for prospects) to do it makes the Reds worse off this year and probably over paying for a No. 3/4 pitcher after 3 years, if not sooner.

    • Eric Sullivan

      Jessie, I love that ben stiller scene from starsky and hutch!

  16. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I think Lance on the radio was saying no. But, I could see this very well. Exactly how you wrote it. Only if all pieces will fit, trade Cueto, sign Shields, and extend Leake at least for a short time, giving the prospects some time to get up here. Any one of those pieces misses, I wouldn’t do it. As a separate move, I would extend Leake.

  17. User1022


    Cueto is 28. Shields is 33. The chances of Shields being effective much longer are a huge risk as he is rapidly approaching “The Cliff”. Some hit it earlier than others, some hit it later, but it’s a huge gamble either way. How would you like to sign Shields, trade Cueto and be stuck with Eric Milton 2.0 for 4 more years and no true ace?

    I get that the Reds probably can’t keep Cueto (they said the same thing about Votto) but I would at least explore a 5 or 6 year deal with him to see what he’s looking for. If it comes to it and the Reds are out of the running, trade him at the deadline to a contender who will overpay for his services. You’d be much more likely to land a serviceable starter than now, and certainly wouldn’t be taking the risk of sunk costs on Shields.

  18. WVRedlegs

    I like the idea of signing Shields, but no more than 3 years. It would make 2015 very relevant again. Durable and an innings eater, but comes with age and shoulder mileage concerns.
    Just two words of caution though with Shields, Bronson Arroyo. The Reds had Arroyo for 8 seasons with 7 going 200+ innings pitched, and the one he didn’t make 200, he was at 199. That is what we all said about Arroyo, durable and an innings eater. He signs a free agent contract last year, 2 year/$23.5MM, and boom, blows out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. He may be ready to pitch again when his contract is about up.
    The similarities are there. But some differences are there too. BA and Shields are two different types of pitchers. And BA is 37 compared to Shields at 33.
    A move like this would stabilize the 2016 rotation, strengthen the 2015 team, and keep him away from the dreaded Cards. The rewards look like they would outweigh the risks.

    • wvredlegs

      I forgot, and didn’t consider, the Reds would have to forfeit their 1st round pick in June’s MLB draft to sign Shields. That does put a different spin on things. The Reds have the 11th overall pick in the 1st round. It was the 10th pick, but with Houston not signing their No. 1 pick Brady Aiken, Houston gets an extra 1st round pick this year one spot below where they picked Aiken. So that gives Houston the #2 overall pick and that pushes the Reds down to #11. The top 10 picks in the draft are protected from being forfieted, but the team then has to give up their 2nd round pick instead. With the Reds being pushed down to #11 now, I don’t think their 1st round pick is protected. We’ll have to get a clarification on that, as it will figure in any decision on Shields.
      I would not give up the #11 overall pick for Shields. A 2nd round pick, no problem, the Reds get a “competitive Balance round B” pick in between the 2nd and 3rd rounds, so that helps ease the pain of giving up a 2nd round pick. That #11 overall pick, it just might be the pick for a highly rated college SS and Cozart’s near future replacement. Giving that up for Shields may take this into no-go territory.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I’m under the impression that it is protected. I believe I read that, anyway. The Astros comp pick does not effect the top ten picks from being protected. The Reds still have a top ten pick (it’s just at 11 because of the Astros failure to sign their pick last year.)

      • scheffbd

        Astros’ comp pick for not signing Aiken means 11 picks will be protected. COllective bargaining agreement calls for 10 worst records to get protected first round picks.

      • wvredlegs

        I had read a couple of articles on this and one said it wasn’t protected and one said it was. Thanks for clarifying that. It is an important ingredient in any Shields talk.

  19. sultanofswaff

    I’m really not comfortable with any organizational plan predicated on trading Cueto at the deadline if the Reds are not in contention—I’d much rather see them do it now. More to the point, there’s no way I accept just a comp pick when he walks. Injuries are a huge risk, and to not take 2 or 3 top prospects right now on the chance you could net a smaller but solid return mid-season is way too risky. I know it’s wasted breath because Bob C. won’t do the smart thing and trade him now. Thing is, I don’t see the big deal in doing it now because I don’t believe we have an exclusive ‘window’ to win this year. If you look at the team, we’ll be just as competitive next year if not more so due to the emergence of our top prospects. Trading Cueto will set up the organization to be competitive for 3-5 years. Makes too much sense not to do.

    • charlottencredsfan

      To make moves with the intent of weakening a competitor, is that really a smart way to go about things? How about building your team as strong as you can get it and take your chances. Maybe a novel idea but seems to make sense.

  20. Hotto4Votto

    Sign Shields if he can be had 3-4yrs. Keep the rotation strong this year and see what you have. Let Cingrani, DeSclafani, and Iglesias battle it out for 5th starter. Try to extend Leake. Move Cingrani/Iglesias to the back end of the pen for this year.

  21. wvredlegs

    Doug Gray posted on Twitter a link to a very good Billy Hamilton article. It is on Fangraphs by Jeff Sullivan again. It is very much worth the read. Goes into detail in what Steve M. has often said about BHam, with the exception of more or better bunting.


  22. lwblogger2

    The Cards signed Villanueva, formerly of the Cubs, to a minor-league deal with an invite. I like that signing for the Cards and wonder if the Reds were in on him at all. He’s compiled a 4.27 ERA over 206 1/3 innings (20 GS) with 7.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9, over the last two seasons. I like him more than Marquis or even Maholm. I like him better than Axelrod too. I imagine his deal includes an “out” clause because I’m pretty sure he could find a Major League job if he doesn’t break camp with the Cards.

  23. redmountain

    Would not touch him. He’s a ticking time bomb. If he is soooo good why are the Royals letting him walk? If the Reds go to ST and it appears there is a need midway through and he is available, then maybe. Signing him to keep him away from StL is not a good reason.

    • jessecuster44

      But we signed Byrd to keep him away from Pittsburgh! ‘Doh!

    • Matt WI

      There are a lot of good reasons to let a player go that don’t infer a lack ability on the player’s part. Smart teams sometimes know when to walk away from a negotiating table… maybe Shields himself just wanted out of K.C. as a matter of preference. Mostly, I assume, it was a money thing, not a talent thing.

  24. Brady

    I wouldn’t mind this. I think I’d rather gamble on giving Shields 3 or 4 years at a lower price than giving Cueto anything higher/more expensive than that. I just don’t see Cueto holding up for the long-term, and this would open up an avenue to trade him without losing too much. It makes some sense.

    I’ll say this though; if they have that kind of money, I’d much rather give it to Yoan Moncada.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Anyone under 25, I could be persuaded. This is folly to sign an old guy to this team. Fellows, we have to go young – the window has closed.

  25. ManuelT

    It astounds me that many on this site are so dismissive of Cueto. He just had a historical season, pitching in a hitter’s park, and people think adding Shields and trading Cueto would mean not losing too much?

    • Steve Mancuso

      Cueto > Shields, although some projections put Shields as better in 2015. Either way, Cueto is unaffordable beyond 2015. Could get two great prospects for him now. Signing Shields helps with 2015 and beyond. My first choice would be to keep both to compete in 2015, as mentioned in post.

      I don’t think anyone has said anything dismissive about Cueto.

      • preacherj

        This. Short of Kershaw, there is very little out there that would be a straight up replacement for Cueto. That’s not the argument. Improving is. Having them both would be an improvement. If we can’t keep Cueto, then Shields would be wonderful to have. I also do not want to see Shields going to a division rival. I’m leaning toward him going to either St Louis or San Diego. He’s a southern California guy who wants to be closer to home, and they have the money after the Kemp deal. Petco also isn’t the worst place for a pitcher.

  26. sezwhom

    Shields to St. Louis is my conjecture. Nothing to back it up except my spidey sense tingling.

  27. charlottencredsfan

    Signing a 33-year old pitcher to large contract for a cash strapped team. Hmmm – I like it. Are you kidding me? This guy looked his age in the post-season. Count me out – way, way out.

  28. VaRedsFan

    Case closed on this one.

    Padres sign Shields to a 4 year deal w/ an option for a 5th at 72-78 million.
    Not a bankbreaker IMO.

    Must be nice to be Padre fans these days.

  29. earmbrister

    Shields wanted to pitch on the west coast, as preacher expounded upon above. SD was a done deal for awhile now. The Reds have drafted (and traded/acquired) well and have a ton of pitching to deal with the complete turnover of the starting rotation. From Cingrani, DeSclafani, Stephenson, Iglesias, and Lorenzen in the upper minors, to Garrett, Romano, Howard, and Travieso further down the ladder, as well as the Holmbergs, Axelrods, and other minor league/invite deals, they have plenty of options going forward.

    Of course, it’s unlikely that any of these pitchers turn into a Cueto, but Cueto is rapidly becoming the best pitcher the Reds have had since Jim Maloney.

  30. preacherj

    At least he’s out of the Central.

  31. Berdj Joseph Rassam

    The Reds could use another starter like Shields – of course, it’ll never happen.

  32. Mark Lang

    Can he play left field and get on base at a .350 or better clip? If not, then pass.