After staying quiet in the bidding wars for free agent pitchers Jon Lester and Max Scherzer the Yankees may now be pursuing the final remaining big name starter on the market in James Shields. FOX Sports' Jon Morosi spoke to a GM that believes New York is actively pursuing the right-hander, which is a departure from their previous comments about not adding another serious payroll commitment ahead of the 2015 season.
Seeing as pitchers and catchers report in less than 20 days, time is running out for Shields to sign with a team before spring training really gets underway. He could, of course, wait and see which team inevitably loses a starter to injury in spring training with the hopes of cashing in on their panic, but that's always a dicey risk. The Yankees very obviously need some help in the pitching department so that depending on CC Sabathia and Chris Capuano becomes less of an absolute necessity. Shields isn't the great get that Lester or Scherzer would have been, but the advantage of that is that he also comes at a lower cost. Maybe the Yankees have gauged what he can reasonably expect to get at this stage of the offseason and are now intrigued by that.
Shields threw 227 innings for the Kansas City Royals last year on their way to an appearance in the World Series. Having a guy who has been able to pitch over 200 innings in every season of his career so far is a nice luxury for a team like the Yankees with so many injury risks in their rotation as it currently stands. Shields' 3.21 2014 ERA was a few ticks higher than his 2013 mark of 3.15, but still lower than his 3.52 ERA he posted in his last season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Even still, replacing Capuano with that seems like a no-brainer if the money isn't out of control. Maybe.
On the flip side, not everyone is buying the Yankees' interest:
Like with Scherzer, I continue to hear #Yankees are not in play for significant fr-agt SP such as Shields— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 4, 2015
That's certainly more in line with what we've heard from them all offseason, and it's certainly possible that Morosi's source is incorrect. Who knows. The joys of hot stove season are plentiful.
Do you want Shields to be a Yankee? Does it make sense that the team might be looking to bring him in at this stage of the offseason?