As one of the most consistent pitchers in the game, it is no wonder that teams will be trying to figure out ways to acquire James Shields before the trade deadline.
The former Rays starter was dealt to the Kansas City Royals before the 2013 season for a package that included highly-touted outfield prospect Wil Myers. That season, Shields finished with the most innings pitched in the league at 228.2 and posted a solid 3.15 ERA.
With a solid start to the 2014 season, Shields has become a hot name heading into the MLB trade season.
One team that is interested is the Toronto Blue Jays, who have one of the best offenses in baseball but an inconsistent rotation. While there is a possibility they will make a big move for Jeff Samardzija, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes that Shields is the more likely option:
There's been a lot of Blue Jays buzz regarding their potential to acquire Cubs star Jeff Samardzija, but as things stand Toronto expects to focus more this summer on "rental" pitchers, as it wants to avoid gutting its farm system.
With rentals the expected preference, Royals star James Shields is seen as a possible Jays target should he hit the trade market.
Heyman also quoted a source from the Blue Jays organization who said, "We can't keep trading our prospects." This explains why the "rental" route makes more sense at this point in the year.
Of course, teams only become sellers at the trade deadline when they are virtually eliminated from contention. Unfortunately for Toronto and anyone else interested in Shields, the Royals do not fit this description after a red-hot start to June.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports points out that this hurts the chances that the veteran pitcher will be dealt:
With Royals playing this well, chances of a James Shields trade becoming very, very remote. KC is in it.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 14, 2014
Still, it remains something to keep an eye on going forward, in case Kansas City starts to falter down the stretch. Considering Shields is on his way to his eighth year in a row of 200 innings pitched and double-digit wins, there would be an immediate bidding war when and if he becomes available.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.