Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Shields and the trade rumors
Posted Jul 27, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated Jul 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM
ANAHEIM At least six teams are interested in James Shields, according to various national baseball writers.
The Angels have been at the forefront of most of the rumors, but the Rangers, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves and Indians have recently joined the mix of teams seriously considering Shields (8-7, 4.52) as an option before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline. ESPN’s Jayson Stark introduced the Cardinals and Indians to the Shields trade watch.
The Shields to the Angels for CF Peter Bourjos, C Hank Conger and RHP Ervin Santana trade that was floated earlier this week never had any legs, but it’s possible the Rays would want Bourjos or Conger or both in return.
Conger would improve the Rays catching situation and Bourjos could be the replacement for CF B.J. Upton, who becomes a free agent after this season. Both players are under team control until 2017, which fits in nicely with how the Rays operate.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX wrote that Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA in 2011) is not having an off season when you look inside his numbers and that he would benefit from working in front of a better defense.
Still, teams might be a bit concerned with Shields’s 6.15 ERA in his last seven starts, wondering if he is the pitcher they seek to punch their playoff ticket.
Shields is a durable innings eater who will help any staff in the long run, but whatever trade is made before Tuesday’s deadline will be made with the next three months in mind.
Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is not under any pressure to trade Shields in the coming days.
Friedman has said it is easier to trade a player in the offseason when he gets to deal with the 29 other major league clubs and not just the handful that are in the playoff hunt, though the addition of a second Wild Card team in each league expands the number of teams in playoff contention.
Also, the Rays continue this road trip tonight in Anaheim only 2 ½ games behind the Angels and A’s in the Wild Card race. With 3B Evan Longoria currently working his way back from his hamstring injury at Triple A Durham and expected to rejoin the team on this road trip, the Rays believe they are about to strengthen their chances of returning to the postseason.
Trading away one of their top pitches, albeit one who has struggled over the past few months, may not be on the agenda for a team in contention.