After a long ass weekend of suspense that went from surprising to exciting to almost irritating to the point of just wishing it was over and he picked someone else, it appears that the Padres have indeed signed free agent starting pitcher James Shields. The deal is done pending physical, says teenage heartthrob Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, and that’s good enough for me.
Shields deal is pending a physical. Expected to be in $72-78 million range over four seasons. #Padres
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 9, 2015
Shields, 33, was one of the top free agents available this off-season. He was said to be seeking 5 years and over $100 million, but as the season neared and those types of offers didn’t materialize, the Rancho Santa Fe resident seems to have dropped right into the Padres price range. Let’s go to Twitter for some hot takes:
Man, 4 for under $80, even with loss of pick 13, is a really excellent price the Padres are getting for James Shields.
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) February 9, 2015
When my man AJ Preller signs James Sheilds, I be like… pic.twitter.com/sBnuGa2SX3
— Mark Grant (@Mudcat55) February 9, 2015
Rinse, repeat. pic.twitter.com/FU52PoWWZa
— Nathan Veale (@VocalMinorityNV) February 9, 2015
You can’t make everyone happy, I suppose. Especially a guy whose professional football team just won their 4th Super Bowl like a week ago. Why would he just be happy? That’d be ridiculous.
Anyway, what the Padres get in James Shields is the one thing they definitely needed to become a contender in 2015: a top of the rotation starter. By signing a free agent rather than making a trade for someone like Cole Hamels, the team also continues to keep it’s top prospects Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, and Matt Wisler. They will lose their first round pick, 13th overall, but having a competitive balance pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds cushions that blow a bit.
Yes, the Padres still have question marks all over the infield, but the answers to those questions weren’t exactly readily available at this point in the off-season. What was available was pitching, and rather than sit on what they had, rock star GM AJ Preller and the Padres once again decided to go for it.
The simple signing of a free agent to a legitimate contract is, of course, a huge deal for the Padres. This will easily be the largest contract ever handed out by the franchise, and also easily eclipses the largest outside free agent signing, which came just last winter as the Padres signed Joaquin Benoit to a 2 year deal worth $15.5 million. This signing will top that by about $60 million in total value.
Also, with Shields’ contract added, the Padres 2015 payroll will likely sit somewhere in the $105 million range when they head to camp, which if it stays that way until opening day would be by far a franchise record. It’s also very close to where team payroll should be based on projected revenue, and percentage of revenue spent on payroll has long been an area where the Padres have lagged behind the rest of the league.
We don’t know what’s going to happen in the 2015 season, but we do know that there is legitimate effort being put in to gives the fans a winning product on the field, something to be excited about. If the Padres hit the trade deadline in contention but needing to fill a hole, you now have to have some confidence they will do everything they can to fill it. No half measures, AJ and ownership are all-in.
With all the previous moves, the Padres had cracked open a window for contention, but now it’s fully open. These next 2-3 seasons, at least, are shaping up to be a whole lot of fun.