Most major league teams open spring training in just two weeks, yet right-hander James Shields remains unsigned. Let’s check in on the rumor mill …
Bob Nightengale of USA Today wonders if the Cardinals might wind up with Shields, who was said to be looking for a five-year, $125 million contract when the offseason began but would maybe settle for something in the four-year, $70-80 million range at this point. Nightengale says the Cards “have shown interest” in Shields — the first we’ve heard of this.
St. Louis was also connected to Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, so maybe there’s something here. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted in January that the Cards had “indicated a willingness to discuss” something in the $120 million range with Lester, who signed a six-year, $155 million free agent contract with the rival Cubs.
Shields registered an outstanding 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 180/44 K/BB ratio across 227 innings (34 starts) last season for the American League-champion Royals. The 33-year-old has topped 215 innings every summer since 2007 and would bring some stability to a Cardinals rotation that is somewhat susceptible to collapse in 2015 with both Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha facing lingering injury concerns.
Wainwright needed a cleanup procedure on his right elbow in late October and Wacha logged only 107 innings during the 2014 regular season due to right shoulder troubles.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.