Competing executive thinks Rays will trade James Shields

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Jayson Stark of ESPN.com provides the quote:

“Just look at the contract,” one AL exec said. “He’s got this year and next year left. So he’s got more value now than he’ll have a year from now. They’re very analytical about everything they do. It just makes sense that now’s the time.”

The Rays owe James Shields a $9 million salary in 2013 and hold a $12 million club option on him for the 2014 season.

That’s well below market value for a reliable starting pitcher like Shields, but Tampa Bay has a very limited budget and would do well to deal from a strength — rotation depth — to patch up a couple pf weaknesses.

Shields, 30, had a 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 223/58 K/BB ratio in 227 2/3 innings this year. He finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2011 after posting a 2.82 ERA over 249 1/3 frames.

2017 Preview: The National League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League Central

It’s the Cubs’ world and we’re all just living in it. But repeats are rare in baseball nowadays, so maybe it’s better to be on “field” than on the Cubs?

That said, who in the division has a real shot at unseating them? No one I can see, even if the Cardinals and Pirates should be competitive.

The Brewers played .500 ball this spring. Which means absolutely nothing, but I thought I’d mention it. As for the Reds, well . . . Cincinnati has some underrated restaurants and you can go across the river to Kentucky and find a super great bourbon selection at a number of stores. Make a day of it.

Our previews of the NL Central teams:

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins