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.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.