So James Shields has apparently signed with the Padres, and here are the takeaways:
▪ Nice to see everyone take the opportunity to make the same joke about the Padres winning the Wil Myers trade.
▪ The real winner here is Andy, who no longer has to tell us every week or so that the Royals are not going to sign Shields.
▪ Speaking of winners, Shields gets we might call the Ervin Santana Award for overplaying a hand and signing for fewer fortunes.
▪ He was originally looking for five years and $125 million, was thought to be able to get five years and around $100 million midway through the offseason, and instead signed for four years and around $75 million with a club option for a fifth.
▪ Nobody has to worry about how Shields will get by, but still, that’s a pretty big gap.
▪ The qualifying offer system will get a hard look in the next CBA negotiation. Nobody is accepting a qualifying offer, and the draft pick compensation is only serving to drive down the price and leverage of free agents. The players’ union didn’t become the most powerful union in sports by letting things like that stick for too long.
▪ From the Royals perspective, the tempting thing is to line up all the dollars here and declare a winner. Assuming the money is evenly distributed, Shields will make about $18.75 million in 2015. That is more than any two Royals pitchers will make combined. But it’s not as simple as that. The replacement for Shields was never going to be the free agent they signed. The replacement for Shields is Yordano Ventura. The replacement for Ventura is Danny Duffy. The replacement for Duffy, perhaps, could be Volquez, but the point is the Royals were never going to sign a free agent the caliber of the one they let go.
▪ Shields will be in one of baseball’s best pitchers parks, and in the National League, but still, these long-term deals for free agent pitchers almost never work out.