Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dodgers should target James Shields, no matter what happens with Greinke

Someone who is -- and isn't -- getting a lot of coverage during these Winter Meetings is James Shields. He was once reported to be the Dodgers' No. 1 trade target, yet they haven't been linked that closely with him this week.

But the Dodgers should attempt to acquire him -- even if they do sign Zack Greinke.

Shields, 31 in 15 days, is a legitimate No. 2 or No. 3 starter, which is something the Dodgers don't have on a consistent basis with Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett.

The lifetime Ray has posted a 3.89 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.7 K/9 and a 3.84 FIP in his career, and those numbers would presumably get better if he were traded to a team outside the American League East.

Shields has been one of the most underrated pitches in the last two seasons. He's averaging 238 innings with a 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.6 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 8.5 K/9 and a 3.64 K/BB. Those numbers would look awfully nice either right behind Clayton Kershaw or (preferably) Greinke.

Shields has a friendly contract, as he's slated to make $9 million this season and $12 million next season on a club option, which would almost certainly be exercised. That makes him even more attractive to a potential acquiring team.

The team's interest in acquiring two starters this winter could mean it doesn't believe Billingsley's elbow is as good as it's been made out to be.

While he was touching 94 MPH on the gun after the season, there's no iron-clad guarantee the platelet injections will help Billingsley avoid Tommy John surgery. He's an unknown at this point and it's best to assume he's a non-factor until his health proves otherwise.

It also says the team doesn't think of Ted Lilly as a starting pitcher anymore. I don't, either, especially after all the shoulder issues last season. He has a chance to be a contributing member of the bullpen, but I'd be shocked if he made more than a few spot starts in 2013.

Apparently the asking price for R.A. Dickey is higher than expected. The Dodgers, instead of trying to acquire a guy who's two years shy of 40, use those prospects to try to get Shields, who's roughly eight years younger than Dickey.

The Dodgers have the prospects to land a guy like Shields (but not his teammate David Price unfortunately), but a more creative approach to a deal could be in order.

Team President Stan Kasten has said he wants to rebuild through the farm system, but it'd be hard to do that if they give up three or four quality prospects for Shields. My solution: Make Andre Ethier the centerpiece.

The Rays are looking for offense. They were talking to the Nationals earlier this week about Mike Morse. The Dodges should build an offer around Ethier and lots of cash.

My proposal

To Tampa Bay: Ethier, cash ($25 million) Chris Reed and Joc Pederson
To Los Angeles: Shields

The Rays land a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter in Ethier with the Dodgers paying a healthy portion of the deal. They also acquire a lefty whose role is yet to be determined. However, he's a former first-round pick and there is value in that for a club like the Rays. They also get one of the Dodgers' best trade chips in Pederson. Pederson had a breakout 2012 campaign and projects to have average tools across the board. He can play center field, but he's better in a corner.

The Dodgers land a starter who gives them a potential rotation of Kershaw, Greinke (if he signs), Shields, Billingsley and Beckett. That doesn't even take into account Hyun-jin Ryu, whom the Dodgers might sign later this week.

My proposal could be way off. The original I was thinking about had Dee Gordon, but the Rays acquired Yunel Escobar on Tuesday, so their shortstop hole was effectively filled.

There's also no way of knowing the Rays would be interested in Ethier, even if the Dodgers send a lot of cash in the deal.

Management could really test the whole "There's no such thing as too much pitching" theory with some acquisitions this winter. And it seems that theory won't get tested until the Dodgers sign Greinke or make a different move with similar significance.

Photo credit:Wknight94, Wikimedia Commons


  1. But if you trade Ethier, who plays RF?

  2. Replies
    1. That would be very risky given how fast things are moving right in the league.

  3. this would be it wont happen.

  4. I'd trade Ethier in a second. I like his game but he's overpaid and I'd rather have the SP. We can sign an OF to play RF and hopefully he can lead off. I doubt Ethier gets dealt though.

  5. Suppose you came to Opryland, set up your suite like something out of the 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous' and nobody showed!?!? Whats up with that??
    I've felt all along that Zack G. was a no go.Looks like his wifey is pulling on him to stay in Texas, so lets go fwd..
    I'd love 'Big Game', but I don't know if they want Dre....
    Who's out there resembling a#2?? Dickey, Sanchez, Lohse???Help..