The idea that the Blue Jays are having 'internal discussions' about signing James Shields kind of amuses me. I picture Alex, alone in an office, talking to himself:
"I should sign Shields"
"But I have no money"
"What if he signed really cheap?"
"I have no money, really cheap is still going to be more than no money"
"I could back load a contract"
"Yeah if I do that, then it will become Duquette's problem"
And, knowing Alex, that would go on for another hour.
I figure that the chances of us signing Shields is almost zero, unless Mr. Edward Rogers III does get Dan Duquette to run the team. If that were to happen, I'd bet that there will suddenly be more money. I think if Duquette becomes team president, then Rogers will give the team a bunch of money, so he can make a big splash and get the fans on his side right away.
And think of how much Mr. Rogers will be saving by forgetting about the idea of real grass, once he kicks Beeston out the door. I'm betting it is never mentioned again. I get the feeling that Rogers have already decided it isn't going to happen, so why bother really studying it. I hope I'm wrong, but I think that if it was going to happen, they have started studying it by now and have some clear idea if it could be done and how much it would cost. But I digress....
The team does have a lot of money coming off the books after this year, so if they could get Shields for 4 years and some sort of back loaded contract, in the area of $80 million, they should be able to afford it. Then, if he is going for that, the Jays won't be the only team that is suddenly interested. It would be interesting if, by lowering his price, Shields got a bidding war going and got someone back to the 5 years and $100 million he had been looking to get earlier.
In case you are wondering, Shields hasn't been great at Rogers Centre. He's had 10 career starts, a 4-3 record, 4.09 ERA. The number that sticks out is 20 home runs allowed in 70 innings. Good strikeout to walk rate there, 61 strikeouts, just 13 walks. but the 20 home runs is, by far, the most home runs he's allowed in any road park. not that I'd read too much into 10 career starts.
If there is money around, I'm not sure that I wouldn't rather the team spend it on a second baseman and a couple of relievers than Shields, but I guess it is a little late for that, there isn't much left for free agents at those spots.
Shields would give us another guy with a 200 innings streak going, he has thrown over 200 innings the last 8 seasons. Between him, Mark Buehrle (14 straight seasons) and R.A. Dickey (just 4 straight, but still, that's pretty good).
Signing Shields would allow the Jays to keep Aaron Sanchez in the bullpen for the year, then next season, when Buehrle is gone (and maybe Dickey as well) Sanchez can slide into the rotation. Another worry I have is that, if Sanchez were to be a reliever next year, and he does a good job, like I'd expect, it will be hard for the team to move him into the rotation. People will talk about how great Joba Chamberlain was, when he first came up as a reliever, and how trying to make him a starter didn't work and how he was never the same.
Adding Shields would give us one of the better rotations in the AL East, but if we had the money around to sign him, I don't understand why Alex has been so cheap filling out the bullpen or looking for someone to play second.