James Shields: “It came down to the Cubs and the Padres”

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James Shields is making the media rounds in San Diego after signing with the Padres and revealed during a radio interview that the Cubs finished runner-up in the bidding:

In all reality, it came down to the Cubs and the Padres–two great managers. I think I made the right decision here. I’m really happy about it. I’m really happy to be a Padre. …

When it came down to it, I had to think about my family, being close to home. And my No. 1 reason is winning. The teams I was looking at, I knew they were going to win and win now. That’s what I loved about San Diego and what ownership’s doing right now. They had that win-now mentality. They want not only to win now but win the next four, five years.

Previous reports had the Cubs offering Shields a three-year, $60 million contract. He ended up getting a four-year, $75 million deal from the Padres that also includes a fifth-year option for $16 million.

Shields lives in San Diego and the assumption all along is that he wanted to play somewhere on the West Coast, so if the Cubs and Padres were close in his mind despite the large gap in contract size that speaks to his desire to be reunited with Joe Maddon, his former manager with the Rays.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.