James Shields (along with BJ Upton) is going to be one of the names that receives the most attention once the Hot Stove season opens up next week. And our first big rumor comes from Buster Olney and involves the Marlins.
There was some speculation that the Marlins would be interested in Carlos Zambrano. But Olney says they are much more interested in Shields and are “considering making a serious run” at the Rays ace.
We understand the idea of trading a guy like Shields (it will take a lot more than Logan Morrison, as Olney tosses out there). He will make $7 million in 2012, which will be approximately 15 percent of the entire payroll. And the Rays have a young, talented, and very cheap Matt Moore ready to enter the rotation.
But if a team like the Rays really wants to compete, they need guys like Shields on the team. In the grand scheme of things, he is still a great deal and very much underpaid for what he brings. He is also a proven commodity and the Rays are a better team with him than they are without him.
And what the Rays need to decide is, at what point does protecting the future outweigh putting the best product on the field now? In most organizations, the future eventually becomes the present. We will have to wait and see if the same is true of the Rays.