With the trade winds still blowing, the San Diego Padres find themselves in a position where some important decisions need to be made about the future of the team. It has been reported that the Padres have put Ace pitcher James Shields on waivers as well as slugging outfielder Matt Kemp. It would be very difficult to move Kemp and his guaranteed contract of $86 million dollars through the 2019 season. Shields on the other hand, could be traded if the right team were to be found. Everybody is looking for starting pitching this time of year.
Shields is guaranteed $21 million dollars next season, but may opt out of the contract after the season if he chooses. If he does not opt out Shields is then due $21 million for each of the 2017 and 2018 seasons with a club option at $16 million for the 2019 season or a $2 million dollar buyout. The opt out clause in James Shields contract after next season makes his contract hard to value for a team looking to acquire him or trade him.
He could easily opt out of his deal if Shields has a great year next season and believes he can get a better deal on the open market. If his management decides to go that route they would gamble that the then 35-year-old pitcher would get a better deal than the guaranteed two years-$42 million (what would be left on the Padres contract). A very big gamble and the likelihood of that seems small. Unless Shields wins a Cy Young and an MVP award in 2016, the opt out clause shouldn’t be a major factor. One would think.
So if he does not exercise his opt out clause, Shields will be due a guaranteed $65 million dollars for the next four seasons with a possibility of the deal reaching $79 million dollars (If team option is picked up for 2019 season). That is a hefty sum of money for a pitcher. Shields brings a swagger and accountability to the team, however the team seems to be lukewarm to his style of play. Now either the Padres need to surround Shields with gamers like himself, or they must move him for players that fit the teams personality.
The Chicago Cubs and the Padres have been long rumored to be going back and forth regarding a shortstop upgrade for the Padres and a starting pitcher upgrade for the Cubs. Tyson Ross, James Shields, and Andrew Cashner have all been rumored to be coveted by the Cubs, but nothing was done before the July 31st deadline. A proposed deal makes sense because the Cubs are presently happy with Addison Russell as their everyday shortstop.
25-year-old Starlin Castro has been relegated to bench duty as the team has decided to let Russell take over as the everyday shortstop. Castro is a three-time All-Star, but has worn out his welcome in Chicago. Could a new team be the key to Castro becoming more of a consistent player? He is hitting .236 with five homers and 46 RBI’s this year, which is easily his worst offensive year in the Major Leagues. Castro is a six-year veteran who has a career .278 batting average with 56 home runs and 74 stolen bases.
The Chicago Cubs are reportedly done with Castro and the team was actively looking to move him before the July 31st deadline. The Padres are sure to be interested, but they have issues themselves and it is really not clear if Castro would be a good fit. His lack of defense and character issues are of deep concern to the Padres. Then there is his guaranteed contract of $40.428 million dollars through the 2019 season (with a $16 million dollar or $1 million dollar buyout for 2020). That is a lot of money for a shortstop that has issues.
Would the Padres consider moving Shields for Castro? The deal would save the Padres money in the long run (if Shields does not opt out after next season). If all options are picked up on both players Shields would make $79 million through 2019 and Castro would make $56.428 through the 2020 season. The team could conceivably save over $22 million, and they would get an extra year of service from Castro. Not a horrible plan.
However, Shields is far more of a guarantee to justify his contract than Starlin Castro is. The fact the Cubs are sitting Castro is a troubling fact. Do they know something the Padres should be aware of? He is very young and a change of scenery could easily be a boost to his career. The risk is high, but the reward is almost worth the gamble. Young shortstops with that much Major League experience do not come along every day.
The Padres are surely interested in Castro, but Javier Baez might be who the team covets the most. Baez has unreal power, but his strike out totals are alarming and he too comes with questions about his defensive abilities at shortstop. Baez is only 22 and the Cubs seem inclined to keep him if possible. He could eventually become the Cubs everyday second baseman with Russell anchored at shortstop.
So what kind of deal can be worked out with these two teams? James Shields would surely help the Cubs in their quest for a World Championship. The question is how willing is the team to make a deal happen? The Padres really hold all the cards here. The Cubs are already starting to back down in their benching of Castro, Clearly they are ready to make a deal. If A.J. Preller plays his cards correctly he could either pluck a prized prospect from the Cubs or perhaps get them to take the contracts of Jedd Gyorko or Melvin Upton Jr.
If the team were able to rid themselves of Gyorko’s $33 million dollar guaranteed or Melvin Upton’s $31.9 million guaranteed, then there would be a ticker tape parade along Harbor Drive. Both of those contracts could suffocate the team in the next few seasons. Paying Upton Jr and or Gyorko that kind of money to sit on the bench is foolish.
Would the Cubs take Jedd Gyorko even up for Castro? That deal in itself make the most sense for both squads. The Padres would take on more salary in that proposed deal, but the upside of Castro might just be worth it. Gyorko could also flourish playing in Chicago for the Cubs. At this point the Cubs probably would not want to make a deal of that significance if it doesn’t involve a pitcher. That would be their main interest.
There is really nothing imminent with these two teams but the match for a trade does still exist. As long as the Cubs continue to play great baseball and stay in the playoff race, a deal could take place. The Padres are making every attempt to make their team better and if it means trading their ace, then they will most surely do it. Castro for Shields could be a beneficial deal for both clubs, but the two teams have the ability to expand this deal into a blockbuster. Stay tuned, this could get interesting…