Padres Not Done Yet, Reportedly Targeting Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

The ink has barely dried on the four-year pact the Padres made with James Shields, but general manger A.J. Preller is already working on his next move.

The newest target appears to be free agent Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.

That’s the word coming from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

We covered Moncada in detail last week when he was officially declared a free agent and became eligible to sign with any team.

The 19-year-old is arguably the most coveted free agent still on the market and is widely-viewed as the top prospect out of Cuba.

Signing Moncada would be yet another win in an already impressive offseason for San Diego, long one of the games stingiest and quietest teams in the free agent and trade game.

The Padres have already added a slew of talent this offseason including: Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Brandon Morrow, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Maurer, and Josh Johnson.

Moncada is expected to play at second base or third base when he reaches the majors, but the Padres could continue to try him at shortstop in hopes that he could stick at the position for the long-haul, despite his size.

No matter where he ends up defensively, he figures to contribute in a big way on the offensive side of the ball. Moncada is a switch-hitter with great bat speed and raw – but burgeoning – power that could make him elite if he sticks as a middle-infielder.

He also brings tremendous speed on the bases and in the field and the type of arm strength that will allow him to play anywhere on the diamond.

The Padres will, obviously, have a lot of competition for Moncada. He’s already held a public showcase that was heavily-attended and has taken part in a number of private workouts for clubs as well.

The usual suspects when it comes to big spending – the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox – are heavily-speculated to be the front-runners, but Moncada has “game-changing” potential and figures to draw heavy-interest all around the game.

San Diego’s new-found aggressiveness under Preller makes the club an absolute wild card for Moncada – and/or any other free agent or trade candidate – and makes the Padres a very, very intriguing club to watch in the coming season.

Posted in A.J. Preller, Baseball, Brandon Maurer, Brandon Morrow, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Derek Norris, Free Agency, Josh Johnson, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, MLB, National League, NL West, San Diego Padres, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Yoan Moncada | Leave a comment

James Shields Signs Four-Year Pact with the San Diego Padres

James Shields

It took him the entire offseason to find the right deal, but James Shields finally landed a new contract.

Shields and the San Diego Padres have agreed on a four-year, $75 million pact that will allow him to pitch close to his home and should immediately improve the Padres rotation.

The deal reportedly includes a $16 million club option for a fifth year.

This deal is the largest free agent contract in San Diego’s team history, eclipsing the $15.5 million the club gave Joaquin Benoit last offseason. Shields also becomes the first free agent pitcher to sign a contract in excess of $50 million after February 1, a time when most free agents will take any offer they can get.

We’ve touched on Shields a handful of times this offseason, often with confusion about how his market never really seemed to come together the way it did for fellow free agent starters Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, both of whom signed mega-deals earlier this winter.

There was obviously some concern about Shields’ age – he turned 33 in December – and the many, many miles he’s put on his right arm over the years, having racked up nearly 2,000 innings in his big league career.

To pile up that many innings, one can pretty quickly deduce that Shields has been one of the most durable pitchers in the game since breaking into the league with Tampa Bay in 2006.

The right-hander made 31 starts and tossed 215 innings in his first full-season in 2007 and never looked back. He’s now posted eight consecutive seasons of 200+ innings and 31+ starts; including his current run of four consecutive years with 227+ innings pitched.

In recent years, Shields stepped up his game and transitioned from just an innings-eater to a reliable, front-of-the-rotation starter for both Tampa Bay and Kansas City.

He really came into his own in 2011 while still with Tampa Bay.

That season Shields won 16 games – including 11 complete games and four shutouts – with a 2.82 ERA, 134 ERA+, 1.04 WHIP, and a 225/65 K/BB ratio in 249.1 innings. Those numbers earned him a trip to the All-Star game and a third place finish in the American League Cy Young award voting.

Despite all of those innings and markedly improved results over the past four years, Shields is still far from an ace; which likely explains why it took him until two weeks before spring training to find a new contract.

Here is where Shields ranks among all qualified starters in a number of categories since his breakout campaign in 2011:

James Shields 2011-2014 Ranks

Don’t get me wrong, those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, and he certainly makes San Diego a better team than they were yesterday, but he’s not an ace. He will, however, be a very solid front of the rotation starter.

At the price they’re paying Shields and having avoided the type of long-term commitment that free agent hurlers generally require, I think the Padres will be very happy with their return on investment.

San Diego general manager A.J. Preller spent the first part of this offseason improving the offense by bringing in Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp to anchor the lineup and Will Middlebrooks and Derek Norris to serve as complimentary pieces.

Now he’s added Shields to a rotation that already includes Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Brandon Morrow, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Robbie Erlin. The club also has Cory Luebke and Josh Johnson working their way back from Tommy John surgeries as well.

That’s a lot of potential firepower for a club that routinely ranks near the top of the pack in pitching categories.

The Padres indicated earlier this week that they were expecting their payroll to climb to new heights and that they still had room for another big move, it looks like Shields was the target in all of that talk.

Now the club can prepare for spring training with a loaded rotation, a revamped offense, and a very real chance of making the postseason for the first time since 2006 and just the sixth time in franchise history.

As for Shields, while he didn’t quite land the five-year, $100+ million deal everyone was expecting when the offseason began, he does get the comfort of pitching close to home and It’s safe to say that he won’t be hard up for cash any time soon either.

Posted in A.J. Preller, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Derek Norris, Free Agency, Ian Kennedy, James Shields, Jon Lester, Justin Upton, Kansas City Royals, Matt Kemp, Max Scherzer, MLB, NL West, Odrisamer Despaigne, Playoffs, Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Tyson Ross, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks | 1 Comment

Trying to Find a Team for Dayan Viciedo

Dayan Viciedo

Dayan Viciedo was released by the White Sox on Wednesday after the club designated him for assignment the week prior.

Viciedo, 25, should – in theory – be an interesting option for a number of clubs.

He’s young, he’s still under team control for three more years, and he has some serious right-handed power at a time where clubs are placing significant value on power.

Unfortunately, those are the only three items that would show up on the good side of a “pros and cons” list if a team were evaluating Viciedo in the same manner that I use to decide which Doritos flavor to purchase.

You see, despite those three very solid positives, the other side of that list would be chock-full of reasons not to sign the guy; he’s a very bad outfielder, he is mediocre running the bases, he’s flat-out horrible at getting on-base, and he can really only hit against lefties.

Oh yeah, and if that weren’t enough knocks against signing the guy, it seems that he’s looking for regular playing time as well.

That’s the message coming from Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty in response to rumors that the club was interested in signing Viciedo:

“We talked to his representative but I don’t know if we have a fit for him,” Jocketty said. “They’re looking for more playing time. With our outfield the way it is, I don’t see it as a good fit.”

Cincinnati appears to have a fully-stocked outfield with Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, and Marlon Byrd already in place for Opening Day.

I’m going to operate under the assumption that maybe – just maybe – Viciedo is balking at becoming a fourth outfielder/bench bat as opposed to operating in a platoon.

If that’s the case, I get it. He’s only 25-years-old and marginalizing himself by willingly becoming a bench bat could be problematic toward future earnings.

That said, if he’s flat-out unwilling to settle for anything less than regular playing time and at-bats, then this dude is off his rocker.

He’s got some serious power, no doubt about it. He hit 21 homers last season, 14 long balls in 2013, and 25 dingers in 2012 for Chicago; but all of that power is accompanied by a career .254/.298/.424 batting line and 388/95 K/BB ratio. Not pretty.

Dayan ViciedoThe bigger issue is his inability to do anything against right-handed pitching; against whom he has a career .679 OPS. When facing southpaws, he has a decidedly more robust .837 OPS.

It’s hard to find an immediate match, but I’ve scrounged around and put together a list of four potential suitors that could make some sense – assuming Viciedo is willing to play a much smaller role than he did in his time with Chicago.

Without any further ado, here are the four potential landing spots for Dayan Viciedo:

San Francisco Giants

The defending World Series champions watched Pablo Sandoval (.465 career slugging percentage) and Michael Morse (.473) depart via free agency this offseason. To replace them, the club brought in Casey McGehee (.400) and Nori Aoki (.387). Needless to say, that’s a step backwards in the power department for a club that wasn’t exactly a Murder’s Row with Sandoval and Morse.

Viciedo doesn’t deserve to start anywhere on this club, but as a right-handed bench bat, he could provide some solid pop. When injuries or interleague play call for it, he could form a nifty platoon with Travis Ishikawa who has a career .735 OPS against right-handers and just a .595 OPS against southpaws.

Cincinnati Reds

While Jocketty has seemingly ruled him out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cincinnati circle back his way if/when Viciedo reassesses the marketplace for one-dimensional ballplayers in early February. Needless to say, I’m expecting Viciedo will realize the ball isn’t exactly in his court right now.

As touched on earlier, he wouldn’t have an obvious role in Cincinnati, but he provides far more power than any of the bench options currently available – especially against lefties – and, if he learns to play a passable first base, he could allow the club to rest Joey Votto at DH during interleague play and give him the occasional day off to keep him healthy and in the lineup.

Detroit Tigers

This one mostly falls into the category of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ until we get some information after Victor Martinez undergoes knee surgery on Tuesday. If the Detroit slugger requires a significant recovery time, Viciedo is basically the only legitimate power bat left in free agency that the Tigers could bring in to replace Martinez.

The club would still, undoubtedly, want to find a platoon partner for Viciedo – perhaps Alex Avila gets a “day off” at DH instead of behind the dish – but he would be a cheap stopgap solution if the need should arise.

Oakland Athletics

Viciedo’s poor on-base skills mean that he’s not a very strong fit with the type of players that Billy Beane generally targets, but the club could use some power. Since last season the club has traded away Josh Donaldson (.458 career slugging percentage), Brandon Moss (.460), and Yoenis Cespedes (.464). They replaced them with Billy Butler (.449), Ike Davis (.423), Brett Lawrie (.426), and Ben Zobrist (.429).

As it currently stands, Sam Fuld is the club’s every day left fielder and, as a lefty, he would seem to form a natural platoon with Viciedo; except that Fuld has an odd, reverse-split in that his OPS against lefties (.673) is better than his OPS (.640) versus right-handers. Despite the obvious lack of a fit, the need for some additional pop is definitely there.

So, uh, there you have it. Those are the four potential landing spots for Viciedo in the final days before spring training.

Admittedly, it took a lot of digging to find a situation that made much sense, but I believe I’ve chosen a winner (and we’re using that term very loosely for this exercise) – the Oakland Athletics.

Ultimately, the Athletics make the most sense because it fills the (likely) needs of the team and the desires of the player.

Outfielders Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick haven’t been iron men in recent years so the potential for increased playing time is certainly there and – despite all of Viciedo’s short-comings – he can probably hold his own, offensively, in competition with Fuld or Craig Gentry if/when the club has a need in the outfield.

He’s far from an ideal solution, but the Athletics are hoping to make another bid for the American League West and adding some firepower to their bench – and utilizing him correctly – could go a long way toward making that happen.

As for Viciedo, it’s the best likely landing spot to maximize his playing time and potentially continue his career as an everyday player in lieu of a platoon or bench role.

Posted in American League, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Dayan Viciedo, Derek Norris, Free Agency, MLB, National League, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants | Leave a comment

Phillies Could Trade Cliff Lee in Spring Training

Cliff Lee

The Phillies are in the midst of a long overdue rebuild and it’s looking more and more like a full-on clearance sale for established – and well-paid – veteran talent.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has already moved Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd via trade, let A.J. Burnett walk via free agency, and he’s been working to trade Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels for most of the winter.

On top of that he’s been very honest about wanting to move on from the albatross that is Ryan Howard and his sizable contract.

One player that has been surprisingly absent from trade rumors this offseason is Cliff Lee.

That no longer appears to be the case, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported earlier today:

As Stark mentions, moving Lee is entirely dependent upon his health.

The left-hander was limited to just 13 starts last season with a flexor pronator strain in his pitching elbow. It marked the first time in his entire career that he’d been placed on the disabled list.

Despite the injury cutting his season short, he was able to avoid surgery. Instead he received platelet-rich plasma injections which – seemingly – got the job done.

Lee is reportedly healthy, throwing off a mound, and – barring any unforeseen setbacks during spring training – should be ready for Opening Day.

While health is paramount to moving the southpaw, money will also be a key factor.

Lee is owed $25 million in 2015 and has a $27.5 million option – or a not insignificant $12.5 million buyout – for 2016, so moving him will also require the Phillies to eat some cash.

Luckily, unlike some of the Phillies other, um, “less-desirable” trade chips, Lee still offers incredible value on the field.

Cliff LeeDespite pitching injured last season, Lee still managed a 3.65 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 102 ERA+, and 8.0 K/9 in 81.1 innings; and he has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since breaking out to win the American League Cy Young award in 2008 with Cleveland.

Between 2008 and 2013, he put up an aggregate 2.89 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 140 ERA+, and a 1.08 WHIP; all while averaging 200 strikeouts and 222 innings pitched per season.

He split those six seasons between Cleveland, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Texas – dominating at every stop.

It is worth noting that Lee can block a trade to 21 teams as part of his partial no-trade clause, but he cannot block a deal to the Braves, Marlins, Indians, Astros, Twins, Mets, Padres, Nationals and Rays.

The only team on that list that could be a wild card for Lee’s services is San Diego.

Depending on which rumor of the day you read, they’re reportedly in pursuit of Hamels or free agent James Shields, but if they’re unable to land either of those two, Lee could make for a very interesting fallback option.

It’s also not hard to imagine Lee waiving his no-trade clause to pitch for a contender and there are plenty of teams that could use an ace of Lee’s caliber to put them over the top for a World Series run.

Admittedly, there are still plenty of hurdles to clear before we get too excited about Lee’s potential landing spots.

He needs to prove he’s healthy – no small task at 36-years-old and coming off an injury to a heavily-worked elbow – and the Phillies need to prove willing to eat a sizable chunk of his salary.

Needless to say it could be a very interesting spring training for Lee and the Phillies.

 

Posted in A.J. Burnett, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Cy Young, Injuries, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd, MLB, MLB Trades, Philadelphia Phillies, Ruben Amaro Jr., Ryan Howard, San Diego Padres, Trade Rumors | Leave a comment

Victor Martinez to Undergo Knee Surgery

Victor Martinez

Detroit Tigers slugger Victor Martinez received some bad news Thursday when he learned that he’d torn the medial meniscus in his left knee and will require surgery.

Martinez, 36, will go under the knife on Tuesday with renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews performing the surgery.

There is no immediate timetable for his return as the club won’t know the severity of the injury until after the procedure.

If it’s a simple clean-up, wherein the cartilage can be trimmed, the recovery time is typically 4-6 weeks. Not an insignificant amount of time by any means, but also not enough to cause Detroit to panic.

If it the cartilage has to be repaired, however, the recovery time increases exponentially and generally falls in the 12-16 weeks range. That type of delay could keep Martinez out of the lineup until June. If that’s the case, the Detroit front office may scramble to find some additional offense before Opening Day.

Martinez is no stranger to major knee injuries. The switch-hitting designated hitter also tore his left ACL prior to the 2012 campaign and missed the entire year. He’d also undergone a microfracture procedure on the same knee earlier that year. Needless to say, his left knee has been through a lot.

Last season, Martinez hit .335/.409/.565 with 188 hits, 32 home runs, and 28 intentional walks – all career highs. He also contributed 103 runs batted in, 33 doubles, and 87 runs scored.

Martinez was so locked in last season that he became just the third player in American League history to hit 30 homers while striking out fewer than 50 times in a season. Joining Martinez in that illustrious trio are Ted Williams (1957) and Joe DiMaggio (1950).

The strong season earned Martinez runner-up in the American League MVP voting behind Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

The Tigers re-signed Martinez to a four-year, $68 million deal earlier this offseason with hopes that he would continue to produce at a high-level, despite his age and the wear and tear from years behind the plate as a catcher.

We obviously won’t know anything conclusive until after the surgery, but this injury coupled with Detroit’s loss of Torii Hunter and Max Scherzer suddenly makes the AL Central look wide-open as we head toward spring training.

Posted in AL Central, American League, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Detroit Tigers, Injuries, MLB, Victor Martinez | 1 Comment

Ranking the Top Landing Spots for James Shields

James Shields

It’s been a very long and – undoubtedly – very disappointing offseason for James Shields, but it appears as though it is finally reaching a conclusion.

Jon Morosi of FoxSports is reporting that Shields has a number of offers in hand and is expected to make a final decision about where he’ll sign by the end of the week.

Despite being the number three free agent starter available, the market for Shields has been incredibly slow to develop this offseason. When fellow free agent studs Jon Lester and Max Scherzer signed for big-time money, it was believed Shields would cash-in himself.

In fact, it was just a month ago that he was rumored to have a five-year, $110 million deal in hand, obviously that pact never materialized or I wouldn’t be writing about Shields’ pursuit of a contract two weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

It’s understandable that teams would be cautious about giving big money to the right-hander. Shields is 33-years-old and has a lot of miles on his right arm.

He’s thrown 200+ innings eight seasons in a row, including 227 innings or more in each of the last four years. That’s good enough for more than 1,900 total innings in his career.

While it could be argued that he’s simply shown incredible durability, he’s also seen his K/9 rate decrease in each of the past two seasons and his H/9 increase over the last four years. He’s shown improved command to make up for his diminishing ability to overpower hitters, but there are warning signs of a major regression in production and teams rarely want to pay top dollar or commit to multiple years in those situations.

If Shields and his agents are willing to re-adjust their expectations and settle for fewer years and dollars, it’s safe to assume that a number of teams could jump back into the mix for his services.

With that thought in mind, we’ve ranked the top seven destinations for Shields – assuming a contract in the four-year, $80 million range is what he’ll land – and three potential dark horse candidates to swoop in for Shields.

San Diego Padres

san diegoIt’s been a very busy offseason for general manager A.J. Preller and he’s been rumored to be in the mix for a front-of-the-rotation starter for much of the winter. Shields would fit the bill and would seemingly thrive moving to the National League and pitching half of his games at Petco Park.

The Padres have reportedly been in talks with the Phillies about trading for Cole Hamels throughout much of the offseason. If Shields – who makes his home in San Diego – could be signed for something similar to or even below what Hamels has left on his deal, it’d be hard to imagine San Diego would balk at the opportunity.

Arizona Diamondbacks

arizonaThe Diamondbacks were rumored to have “in the mix” for Shields earlier this offseason before reportedly backing off when it seemed as though his price was sky-rocketing. In reality, it’s done just the opposite and Shields still makes a lot of sense for a club that’s desperately in need of an ace – sorry Josh Collmenter, you don’t count – to lead the club and gobble up innings.

The club has a protected first-round pick and will gain significant financial flexibility with the contracts of Trevor Cahill, Bronson Arroyo, and Aaron Hill all coming off the books in the next two seasons. If his price has dropped, he’s a perfect fit for Arizona.

Boston Red Sox

bostonThe Red Sox retooled their rotation in a big way this offseason adding Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello to build a groundball heavy staff. The two incumbents to the rotation: Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly are both solid, but the rotation lacks a bona fide ace.

Shields might not be an ace in most clubhouses, but in Boston, he’d be the reliable, innings-eater that the club could use. He’d also be the only real power pitcher on the roster. The Red Sox spent a ton of money to upgrade the offense, adding a big arm – at a discount – could be a huge win for Boston.

Milwaukee Brewers

milwaukeeThe Brewers have money to spend and are in need of an ace after trading away Yovani Gallardo in January. Trade talks to acquire Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon and his bulky salary appear to have cooled, so there is still plenty of room in Milwaukee for Shields. He would join veterans Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse at the front of the rotation. His addition would, however, push one of Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, or Jimmy Nelson to the bullpen.

The Brewers are notorious for making big splashes late in the winter – they did the same with both Lohse and Garza in each of the past two winters – and the presence of Shields in the rotation could help Milwaukee contend for a pennant in the highly-competitive National League Central.

Chicago Cubs

chicagoNLThe Cubs have been busy this offseason and appear primed to become contenders in the near future. The rotation behind recent signee Jon Lester is good, but not great. The addition of Shields would give the club arguably the top one-two punch of any rotation in National League Central.

Shields to Chicago might be a long shot with a slew of much younger free agent starters slated to hit the market next winter, but if the Cubs are serious about turning themselves into legitimate contenders this season, adding Shields to the rotation would go a long way toward making that happen.

Miami Marlins

miamiThe Marlins showed interest in Shields last month and would rank higher if Dan Haren’s “will he or won’t he” saga had ended with him hanging up the spikes. Instead, Haren will show up at spring training and the Marlins have a lot of money tied up in their roster as currently comprised.

Shields would give the Marlins a cushion until Jose Fernandez recovers from Tommy John surgery and he’d be around as a stabilizing presence in the rotation if/when Haren and Mat Latos leave via free agency at the end of the season, but similar to the Cubs above, it might be better for the club to wait and buy into next year’s younger crop of free agent starters instead.

Chicago White Sox

chicagoALMuch like their crosstown counterparts, the White Sox have been very active this offseason adding Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Jesse Crain, and Emilio Bonifacio. Despite those additions, the club is still far from a lock for a postseason berth this season. The addition of Shields would help their cause in a major way.

Samardzija is a free-agent after the 2015 campaign and signing him to an extension figures to be the club’s primary concern, but luring him into a long-term deal could be much easier if Chris Sale and James Shields are already anchoring the top of the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Dark Horses

New York Yankees

newyorkALThe Yankees went on record numerous times this offseason saying that they were not interested in Shields (or any other high-profile free agent for that matter). That was before Shields was still a free agent in February. It’s hard to imagine the Bronx Bombers passing up a chance to land the very familiar right-hander at a significant discount.

Shields has had plenty of success in the American League East in the past and his durability would do wonders for a club that’s got a slew of injury risk tied up in the rotation’s front three of CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda. They’re a long-shot, but they’ve got deep enough pockets to never be out of the conversation.

Oakland Athletics

oaklandBilly Beane is total a wild card. He always has been and he always will be, period.

When the offseason started, it appeared as though he was tearing apart his roster for a rebuild. It didn’t take long for it to become abundantly clear that he was just moving pieces to keep the club in contention, provide some financial flexibility, and reload a minor league system that was weakened with some “going for it all” trades over the summer.

Money is always the issue with Oakland, but two Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin both still working their way back from Tommy John surgery and Scott Kazmir due to hit free agency after the season, it might be worth opening the checkbook for a legitimate innings-eating machine to stabilize the rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals

st louisOn the surface, the club seems set with a rotation of Adam Wainwright, John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez. That having been said; Wainwright is still working his way back from injury, Wacha was hurt much of last season, and Lackey was mediocre in his St. Louis debut late last summer. Should Wainwright or any of the others falter, the club would turn to oft-injured right-hander Jaime Garcia or young lefty Marco Gonzales.

While Shields isn’t an obvious fit, he would improve and stabilize the rotation in a big way. The club likely won’t spend the money, but if there are any lingering injury concerns about the rotation as it stands, Shields – at a discount and reduced years – seems like a good fit.

———————————-

So there you have it, our top seven destinations for Shields and three potential dark horse candidates.

Do you think we were close? Did we miss wildly? Do you think he’s headed somewhere else?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Posted in Arizona Diamondbacks, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Free Agency, James Shields, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals | 3 Comments

Josh Hamilton to Undergo Shoulder Surgery, Doubtful for Opening Day

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton’s tenure in Los Angeles hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations that came with the five-year, $125 million contract that he signed before the 2013 season.

Now it looks as though he’s run into yet another speedbump.

Angels’ beat writer, Alden Gonzalez is reporting that Hamilton will undergo surgery to repair the acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder. The timetable for his return is roughly six-to-eight weeks.

Hamilton, 33, originally hurt his shoulder late last season and missed the bulk of September before returning to the field looking like a shell of his former MVP-self in the postseason.

The surgery and recovery time make Hamilton unlikely to be ready for Opening Day.

Since joining the Angels, Hamilton has hit .255/.316/.426 with 31 home runs, 123 RBI, and 116 runs scored.

As a point of reference, in his final year with Texas he hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs, 128 RBI, and 103 runs scored in roughly 350 fewer at-bats than he’s had in his two years in Los Angeles.

It’s been a far cry from the .313/.370/.583 line and 33 home runs, 107 RBI, and 93 runs scored that he averaged during his final three years with the Texas Rangers.

Throughout his entire five-year stint in Texas, Hamilton was one of the best hitters in the game. He was a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger, a won the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player award.

He’s yet to match any of those accomplishments in Los Angeles and this setback won’t do him any favors as he looks to get his career back on track in 2015.

Matt Joyce – acquired via off-season trade – figures to benefit the most from Hamilton’s early absence. Joyce has been roughly as good as Hamilton over the last two years and is three years younger, so it’s not impossible to imagine him pushing Hamilton for playing time after his shoulder has healed.

If that happens, it’s safe to assume it won’t do anything to quiet the rumors that Hamilton will be moved before the end of his contract with Los Angeles.

Hamilton’s story should be an interesting one to follow this season.

Posted in American League, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Injuries, Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels, Matt Joyce, MLB, MVP, Texas Rangers | Leave a comment