Report: Padres sign James Shields to a four-year contract

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James Shields has finally signed a contract at long last. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports that the right-hander has signed a four-year deal in the $72-76 million range. There is a fifth-year club option as well, and the contract is pending a physical.

The Padres had been rumored to be the heavy favorite to land Shields. GM A.J. Preller has put what appears to be the finishing touch on an off-season overhaul in which he’s added Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Derek Norris, Brandon Morrow, Brandon Maurer, and Shawn Kelley.

Shields, 33, will jump atop the Padres’ rotation along with Andrew Cashner. He’ll be looking to build off of a solid campaign with the Royals in which he finished with a 3.21 ERA and a 180/44 K/BB ratio in 227 innings, helping the club reach the World Series for the first time since 1985.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?