The market for James Shields remains largely a mystery, but Bob Nightingale of USA Today reports that the Padres “have to be considered favorites” to sign the free agent right-hander.
Shields is from California and currently lives in San Diego, and obviously the Padres have shown all offseason that they’re pushing to contend immediately and aren’t afraid of making big moves in an effort to do so.
Other teams being linked to Shields in various reports include the Marlins, Cubs, and Blue Jays. At the beginning of the offseason many people assumed that Shields would top $100 million, but no free agent in baseball history has ever gotten a deal larger than $50 million when signing after February 1. It seems likely that he’ll be the first to crack that mark, but a nine-figure deal may be out of the question at this stage.
Mat Latos and the Marlins couldn’t settle on a 2015 salary, so they went through with an arbitration hearing and the ruling was in favor of the team.
That means Latos will make $9.4 million in his final season before free agency, rather than the $10.4 million he requested.
Latos, whom the Marlins acquired from the Reds in December for minor leaguers Chad Wallach and Anthony DeSclafani, was limited to 16 starts last season due to multiple injuries. He posted his usual 3.25 ERA for his fifth straight season with a sub-3.50 ERA, and is probably 25-30 healthy starts away from a $100 million-plus contract.
Brad Ziegler underwent microfracture knee surgery in September after pitching through the injury for most of the season and the Diamondbacks reliever is on track to be recovered at some point in April.
Ziegler, who posted a 3.49 ERA in 67 innings despite the knee problems, told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:
It’s going well. Dr. [Michael] Lee told me that as far as the microfracture surgeries he’s done, I’m further along at the point that I’m at than anyone else that he’s been checking up on. So I guess that means ahead of schedule. Hopefully I’ll be ready for Opening Day, but if not, barring a setback, it should be shortly after that.
Ziegler has been playing catch overhand, but has yet to do any throwing from his submarine delivery to test how his knee holds up. With a 2.56 career ERA, including a sub-3.50 ERA in all seven of his seasons–Ziegler is a big part of Arizona’s bullpen.