On Friday, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the Detroit Tigers have had contact with James Shields‘ agent. As of right now, it is uncertain how interested the Tigers may or may not be, but the news has certainly created a considerable amount of buzz nevertheless.
Obviously, the Tigers have long been expected to lose Max Scherzer to free agency this winter. While rumors linking Scherzer to the Tigers have persisted, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski continues to claim that the team is happy with their current starting staff. Therefore, some might find the thought of the Tigers pursuing Shields rather than Scherzer to be particularly interesting.
Scherzer, or course, rejected the Tigers’ reported six-year, $144 million contract extension in Spring Training of last season. He has been rumored to be looking for a contract somewhere in the vicinity of $200 million.
While Shields would be cheaper, it has been widely reported that he has already been offered a five-year, $110 million deal by a mystery team. While that is still considerably less than Scherzer may still potentially garner, any sort of nine-figure deal would still be a major commitment for the Tigers, especially when considering the fact that they already have players such as Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera on the books for the long haul. Plus, Shields, who recently turned 33 years old, is older than Scherzer, who will be turning 31 in July.
That said, Shields has a long track record of being a stellar pitcher. Yes, he had a rough season back in 2010 and doesn’t have the flashiest postseason resume, but he has been a serious workhorse, throwing more than 200 innings each year since 2007. Although it remains to be seen how he will age, he can generally be expected to be a 3.0-plus fWAR player annually as well.
Plus, the thought of a starting rotation without Scherzer and Rick Porcello has some questioning whether or not the Tigers can continue their recent string of AL Central dominance. Yes, they have David Price, but can Verlander bounce back? Can Anibal Sanchez stay healthy for an entire season? Or perhaps most importantly, what can Detroit realistically expect to get out of Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon?
Seeing as how the Tigers are still trying to win their first championship since 1984, it would be hard to fault them for at least giving Shields a look.