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.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.