Kansas City Royals’ starting pitcher James Shields will be a popular target in free agency this winter.
It is interesting to evaluate Shields alongside aces like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, both of whom will join him as free agents in a market that promises to have lots of interested teams. Shields might not dominate in the same fashion as those guys, but you can pencil him in for 200 or more solid innings each and every season.
That kind of predictability and durability is hard to come by in the starting rotation, so even if Shields does not necessarily offer the ceiling of some of those other guys he will be sought after.
What teams will be interested in Shields? Among others, it appears that the majority of the American League East will be in the mix. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
He’ll be 33 when he hits free agency, but that shouldn’t deter suitors from offering him at least a four-year deal. The Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, and Blue Jays will be in the mix for arguably the most dependable starting pitcher in the league the last eight seasons. Shields is a perennial, 30-start, 200-inning guy, is AL-East tough, and the dollars shouldn’t come close to what Max Scherzer or Jon Lester will receive in the market.
Cafardo also notes that there is some concern about how Shields will hold up as he pitches into his 30′s, meaning that signing him won’t require a fifth or sixth year as it will with Lester or Scherzer.