Chicago Cubs: Will James Shields find himself on the North Side?


When the San Diego Padres traded for Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the entire league began to take notice. Shortly after, guys like the Upton brothers, Wil Meyers, Craig Kimbrel, and starting pitcher James Shields quickly jumped ship to make this one of the most feared teams in all of baseball – at least that’s what it looked like on paper.

Entering the second half of the season, the Padres haven’t necessarily lived up to that hype. As of right now, they trail the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers by 10 games in the N.L. West with a 41-49 record which is good enough for fourth place ahead of the Colorado Rockies who have the third-worst record in the league.

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With the Dodgers looking to run away with the division, this could lead to San Diego unloading a couple of off-season names hoping to load up on whatever they can to prepare for next year.

Guys like Justin Upton have been rumored to be on the trade block for the third time in his young career. But what may surprise most is that Shields may be the main target for teams hoping to improve their starting rotation while pushing for the postseason.

This is when the Chicago Cubs enter the picture.

Back in February, Shields narrowed his choices down between the Padres and Cubs, eventually opting to join Jed Hoyer’s former team. The deal he signed with San Diego was a four-year contract worth $75 million with a fifth-year option that turned out to be $16 million for his final season if it were to be exercised.

"“In all reality, it came down to the Cubs and 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.” Shields via San Diego Union Tribune"

The 33-year-old right-hander left Chicago’s three-year, $60 million deal behind in hopes of clinching yet another pennant and finishing the job in the World Series.

While San Diego sits near the bottom of their division, the Cubs holds the second Wild Card spot behind the Pittsburgh Pirates who are right on the heels of the St. Louis Cardinals in the N.L. Central.

Joe Maddon‘s young bucks still have a shot at winning the division, which is could prove to be a tough task. All this team needs to acquire is another pitcher who could help anchor the starting rotation, but would he be the right fit for this team?

So far this season, Shields has allowed an earned run in every start but one. That outing came just 10 days ago when he gave up just two hits and one earned run in the 2-1 loss while visiting the Pirates.

He’s currently 7-3 and owns a 4.01 ERA, 131/40 K/BB ratio, and 1.29 WHIP through 116 2/3 innings of work. Those numbers aren’t that bad, it’s just not ‘ace’ worthy material.

Now, Peter Gammons issued a Tweet five days ago about the Padres asking teams about possible interest in the veteran hurler. The list of names that were contacted are unknown, but you would have to imagine that the Cubs and Houston Astros could the top two suitors.

If he’s to be acquired by one of the two – or anyone at all – they’ll be paying him $65 million through 2016-2018 according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

That is definitely a high number, but maybe a reunion with his former Tampa Bay Rays manager could do him some good and whip him back into his 2011 form – where he finished the year with a career-best 16-12 record and a 2.82 ERA. But if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were to consider this move, who would they give up?

With a guy who is owed this much, the Padres may ask for a couple of top names in return. While Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber may be safe – others like Junior Lake, Javier Baez, or Dan Vogelbach could be requested.

Next: A Cashner Return? Castros Trade Value?