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.