According to ESPN, former Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields is headed to the San Diego Padres on a four-year deal (with a team option for a fifth year) worth $75 million. Shields adds a more depth to the Padres pitching staff and helps strengthen the team’s push for a wildcard spot.
Shields contract locks up a very solid starting pitcher to the Padres young starting staff that should not only provide experience, but some solid innings in the first two years of his deal. The 33-year-old starting pitcher threw 227 innings for the Royals in 2014, and was one of their more reliable starting pitchers. He struck out 7.14 batters per nine innings and walked 1.74, while posting a solid 3.59 FIP and 3.56 xFIP. It was a typical year on the mound for Shields, and is one of the reasons that he signed such a big contract. But you have to wonder why the Padres are willing to sign a pitcher, on the wrong side of the aging curve, to a long-term deal like the one Shields has agreed to.
San Diego has traded for outfielders Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers an attempt to improve the team’s offensive attack and outfield defense while pulling the franchise out of the NL West cellar. Of the three acquisitions, Kemps defense is the worst (-22.2 UZR), but it could be masked by the decent play of Wil Myers (1.3) and Justin Upton (-0.9) on the corners. While their defense, minus Kemp’s, provides a small bump in their value, these three athletes provide the most value on the offensive end of the diamond.
Of the three outfielders, Kemp had the best season at the plate by posting a wRC+ of 140 while hitting .287/.346/.506 (meaning he had an OPS of .892, woah) in 599 plate appearances. While his new left fielder, was busy mashing the ball in Atlanta; Upton hit .270/.342/.491 with an 133 wRC+ in 641 plate appearances. The Padres new right fielder, Myers, went through the sophomore slump at the plate and hit .222/.294/.320 in 361 plate appearances in Tampa Bay.
San Diego is projected to finish the 2015 season with an 80-82 record — Shields isn’t official yet, so he doesn’t count into the projections. While that is an improvement over the Padres 77-85 record in 2014, it is going to be tough for the team to end up in one of the five playoff spots. While the signing of Shields isn’t likely to increase their projected win total a lot, it definitely will be a big boost to their wildcard odds.