Workhorse right-hander James Shields of the Kansas City Royals, 33, agreed to sign with the San Diego Padres late Sunday night, accepting a four-year deal worth $75 million.
ESPN reported that the deal includes an option for a fifth year. Shields and his representative, Page Odie, made a verbal agreement with the team.
The Padres, who have made a concerted effort to rebuild the team during the offseason with a series of moves, including the signings of Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks, offered Shields the largest contract in their history, surpassing the three-year, $52 million deal given to Jake Peavy before the 2008 season.
Shields’s record speaks volumes about his endurance; since 2007, he has pitched 1,785 2/3 innings, more than anyone in baseball, and ranks second in pitches thrown to Justin Verlander. Last season, he went 14-8 record with a 3.21 ERA for the Royals, striking out 180 and only issuing 44 walks. H made $13.5 million last year.
Shields pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals before his move to San Diego, compiling a career 114-90 record and 3.72 ERA over nine seasons. In December, 2012, he was sent to the Royals from the Rays in a seven-player deal that included eventual 2013 Rookie of the Year Wil Myers going to Tampa Bay.
Ironically, Shields, known as “Big Game James,” has performed less than spectacularly in the postseason, with a 6.12 ERA for the Royals in five post-season games in 2014, losing both World Series starts. He has a 3-6 record and 5.46 ERA in post-season games overall.
ESPN’s Buster Olney weighed in on why it took so long into the off-season for a team to sign Shields:
Teams were concerned about his history of usage in the past and his salary demands. If you look back at what James Shields has done, and you have to admire him for this; he’s taken the ball. Over the last eight years, the only pitcher in all of baseball who threw more pitches than James Shields is Justin Verlander, and so as teams perceived his asking price to be 100 million dollars they shied away. For example, early in the off-season, the San Francisco Giants were willing to talk about an 80 million dollar deal over four seasons, and when they were told no, they moved on. But in recent weeks, as that asking price has come down, some teams have jumped back in, looking for a bargain. The Chicago Cubs offered him three years, an investing option for a fourth year; another team, I was told, offered him four years and 80 million dollars. The Marlins and Blue Jays were some of the other teams that talked. In the end, the Padres win out, in part because Shields lives in San Diego, grew up not far from there, and now he’s gonna front what should be a pretty good rotation: Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy.
Olney concluded that the Padres’s series of offseason moves boded well for a team he labeled “unwatchable” last year, saying, “I think it’s “mission accomplished” for the Padres in terms of changing the perception of this team and trying to make it a team that could be a playoff contender this summer.”