Red Sox “haven’t had substantive” talks with free agent right-hander James Shields

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It’s hard to get a read on James Shields’ market.

There was a report a couple weeks ago that the Giants and Red Sox were among the remaining suitors, but Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM wrote this past Friday that San Francisco had pulled out and now Bowden adds that Boston’s decision-makers “haven’t had substantive talks” with the free agent right-hander or his representatives. Hmm.

Shields should have been on the fast track toward a deal once Jon Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs on December 10 — an agreement that opened the floodgates for many other free agent signings. But we’re now four days into the new year and it’d be impossible to identify a frontrunner.

Shields posted a strong 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 180/44 K/BB ratio across 227 innings (34 starts) this past season for the Royals. The durable 33-year-old has topped 215 innings every season since 2007.