The top of the crop has officially dried up in Major League Baseball free agency. James ‘Big Game’ Shields signed a 4 year $75 million deal with the San Diego Padres. A bit of a surprise to some as he was expected to be after something near the 7 year $210 million deal Max Scherzer received from the Washington Nationals. Fact of the matter is this, at age 33, James Shields is roughly 3 and a half years older than Scherzer. While Shields age may be worrisome, it has also been a great representation of his durability as he has thrown over 200 innings in each of the last 8 seasons.
While Shields has proven to be a durable starting pitcher in the majors, many teams were scared off due to how he would hold up in the latter years of his career. While what he has done is impressive, it’s also a sign of what is maybe to come, arm fatigue or injury. The market cooled off on him and he ended up with a 4 year deal for $75 million with a team option for the 5th year.
Shields holds a career mark of 114-90 with many of those years. He’s logged 1,910 career innings pitched to go with 1,626 strikeouts. For spending the majority of his career in the AL East facing the bats of the Yankees, Red Sox, and even the Blue Jays of late, Shields has managed a respectable career ERA of 3.72. The Padres hope that his numbers can only get better as he’ll face one less DH and one more pitcher at the plate.
Shields best year was in 2011 when he finished 16-12 with 225 strikeouts in 249 innings, 11 complete games, and an ERA of 2.82. Shields has struggled to live up to the name ‘Big Game’ in the playoffs of late but the Padres hope he can find his groove in a new environment in San Diego.