James Shields Trade Rumors: Analyzing His Potential Impact on the L.A. Dodgers

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2012

ST PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 02:  Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on October 2, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

With the offseason just getting under way, the trade market has already seen some activity as the Royals acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels on Wednesday, and Dan Haren could also be on his way out of Los Angeles.

Another arm who could be on the move is Rays right-hander James Shields who has been shopped off and on frequently over the past year or so. While there will no doubt be several teams interested, the Dodgers have already stepped forward and identified him as their No. 1 target, according to a report from ESPN

It's been no secret that the Dodgers would look to add a top-of-the-rotation arm this offseason, and Shields could be the perfect fit to join Clayton Kershaw atop the team's rotation.

The 30-year-old has been as durable as they come, starting at least 31 games every season since 2007 and going a combined 81-65 with a 3.80 ERA over that span.

He enjoyed the best season of his career in 2011, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and league-highs of 11 complete games and four shutouts to finish third in Cy Young voting.

While his numbers weren't quite as good in 2012, they were still ace caliber, as he has proven to be a workhorse capable of carrying a staff.

Adding to his value is the fact that he is a relative bargain and under team control through the 2014 season with a $9 million salary this season and a $12 million team option for 2014.

The Dodgers have been aggressive in retooling their roster into that of a contender since the new ownership group moved into place, and they have already made a big signing this offseason in re-upping with reliever Brandon League on a three-year, $22.5 million deal to be the team's closer.

The team already has a stockpile of veteran starters, but they lack a legitimate No. 2 behind Kershaw and would prefer to bolster the top of the rotation.

As of now, the rotation following Kershaw would be as follows:

Josh Beckett (7 GS, 2-3, 2.93 ERA, 38 Ks, 43 IP)
Chris Capuano (33 GS, 12-12, 3.72 ERA, 162 Ks, 198.1 IP)
Aaron Harang (31 GS, 10-10, 3.61 ERA, 131 Ks, 179.2 IP)
Ted Lilly (8 GS, 5-1, 3.14 ERA, 31 Ks, 48.2 IP)

The team also has options beyond those guys:

Chad Billingsley (25 GS, 10-9, 3.55 ERA, 128 Ks, 149.2 IP) - injured
Stephen Fife (5 GS, 0-2, 2.70 ERA, 20 Ks, 26.2 IP) 

A number of prospects are also nearing big-league ready:

Zach Lee (25 GS, 6-6, 4.39 ERA, 103 Ks, 121 IP at Single-A & Double-A)
Chris Reed (19 G, 17 GS, 1-8, 3.97 ERA, 67 Ks, 70.1 IP at High Single-A & Double-A)
Aaron Miller (25 GS, 6-6, 4.45 ERA, 110 Ks, 121.1 IP at Double-A)

While there is no doubt a number of choices with which to fill out the rotation, as I stated earlier there is no solid No. 2 option. Beckett has the potential to be that guy, especially if he pitches like he did in seven starts following his trade from the Red Sox.

Shields won't come cheap, and it seems unlikely that they would be able to land him without moving their top prospect in Lee. Packaging the promising right-hander along with a big league ready bat like Scott Van Slyke and Alex Castellanos and perhaps another low-level guy or two could be enough for the Dodgers to swing the trade and add yet another impact veteran to the roster.

Another option would be to build a package around right fielder Andre Ethier, whose name has been brought up on the trade market recently (h/t Buster Olney on Twitter). The offensively challenged Rays would no doubt have some interest in adding his bat to the lineup.

That would be enough for the team to hold onto Lee and the Dodgers would still have Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp in the outfield and a bevy of options on the free agent market to fill the void. Perhaps a second tier option such as Cody Ross or re-upping with Shane Victorino could fill things out.

There are a number of ways the Dodgers could go about acquiring Shields, but now that they have identified him as their No. 1 target and given how aggressive the team has been in the past year I would not be surprised at all to see Shields on his way to Los Angeles sooner rather than later.


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