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.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.