Buzz: Rays Might Shop James Shields

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Rays will likely be cutting their team payroll by approximately $20 million in 2011, and says in addition to losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena to free agency, they could also look to trade James Shields this winter.

I’m not sure how much of a fan I am of Shields. I DEFINITELY like Matt Garza over Shields and would certainly prefer the Mets to pursue Garza over Shields. I think Shields would be better in the National League, and he would give the Mets a lot of innings, but his performance has declined in each of the last two years following a great 2008 season. Shields is still fairly young, and he has pitched well in big games over the past several years, but he was SO inconsistent this year and I think the Mets need a steadier presence in their rotation.

Shields pitched more than 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season this year, but led the American League with 246 hits allowed, while walking 51 in 203 innings. He was ineffective in one postseason start this season against the Rangers, allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings in Game Two of their American League Division Series.

He went 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA this season, but in the Rays pennant winning season in 2008, he was 14-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 215 innings pitched.

Shields earned $2.5 million in 2010, and will earn $4.25 million in 2011, which is the final guaranteed year on his contract. He has three club options from 2012-2014 – his 2012 option is worth $7 million with a $2 million buyout, his 2013 option is worth $9 million with a $1.5 million buyout, and his 2014 option is worth $12 million with a $1 million buyout.

For more on Shields, the Rays, and other buzz from around the league, check out Cafardo’s report here.