CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman provides the scoop:
Rays veteran right-hander James Shields looks like a prime trade candidate and at least the Tigers and Angels are said to have interest.
There have been reports that the Rays might consider dealing any of their five viable right-handed starters. But Shields looks like the most logical candidate due to his $9-million option for 2013.
The Rays will be looking to acquire pitching prospects and/or a young catcher in a return package.
Shields, 30, has registered an underwhelming 4.39 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 20 starts this season, but he’s fanned 124 batters across 131 1/3 innings and can dominate opposing lineups when he’s really feeling it.
The SoCal native earned Cy Young Award votes last year after finishing with a 2.82 ERA in 249 1/3 frames.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.