The deep-pocketed Dodgers want to add a starting pitcher this winter, and according to Mark Saxon of ESPN.com, James Shields is at the top of their shopping list…

“Colletti also would like to add another starting pitcher, in part because of the uncertainty about the health of Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. According to a source, the Dodgers identified right-hander James Shields as their No. 1 target. According to published reports, however, the Tampa Bay Rays are planning to pick up Shields’ $10.25 million option for next season…It’s not clear whether the Dodgers will focus on trade talks with Tampa Bay or perhaps shift their attention to the top free-agent starter, Zack Greinke…”

Interestingly, Saxon isn’t sure if Dodgers will still be interested after the Rays officially pick up Shields’ 2012 option. However, I find it hard to believe that the Dodgers (or anybody else for that matter) actually thought it was possible that the Rays would decline the option. And if that is indeed the case, then the Dodgers interest was based on the idea of trading for Shields.

But will the Rays deal Shields? The easy answer is, yes, they will trade Shields if somebody matches the Rays’ asking price (whatever that might be).

However, heading into the offseason, I thought trading Shields was a longshot. As long as he fits within the budget, the Rays are a better team with Shields than without. And it also seemed like a longshot that anybody would offer a package the Rays deemed valuable enough.

But after looking closer at the projected payroll, I am now wondering if the Rays can indeed enter the 2013 season with Shields making ~17% of the entire payroll.

The Rays will still hold on to Shields for the right package. But that asking price might come down a little bit more than usual.

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18 Comments

  1. Bulls says:

    Cork, When does that new national TV money start rolling in? I thought I read somewhere it would be an extra 30 million a year/club

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      2014. But don't get too excited about the national TV deal. That means more money for the Rays, but it also means more money for every other team. So salaries will likely go up across the board. Maybe the Rays can afford an $70-80 million payroll with extra money, but the players are going to cost more, so the impact will be minimal.

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      • Fatmosh says:

        True, but it does level the playing field a bit: our payroll could go up by 50% while the Yankees might only go up by ~15%.

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          I hope that is the case. But the skeptic in me think the Yankees are more likely to put all $30 million into payroll while the Rays will put $5-10 million into payroll and the rest towards "operational costs" or something similar. The money will still help the team/franchise get better, but I doubt we see a huge immediate impact on the field.

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          • Ken says:

            It has been written that the NYY GM has an ultimatum from ownership to get the payroll below $189M before the 2014 season. Their 2012 payroll was $210M, so they need to shave $21M off their present salary. They may not even go after Soriano if Rivera retires. So I think it is far from being a given that the NYY will use the increase in revenue to increase their payroll.

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        • Ken says:

          This additional revenue could mean that the Rays would not have to trade a player one or two years before reaching free agency. They could offer Price arbitration each of the next three years rather than realistically trading him next winter. The Rays would not have to gamble on a long term contract on Price (pitchers have a higher risk to injury). They could just offer him annual contracts. This way they avoid the issue they had with Kazmir, who was hurt but still had a huge contract guarenteed for several years.

          This could also help the Rays with Hellickson and D.J. who are both Scott Bores clients. They might have the revenue to offer them one year contracts through their six years with the team. They both have a high risk of injury, and with this additional revenue, the Rays have more options.

          We are also forgetting that our local TV contract expires in 2016. Usually TV networks agree to a new contract before the previous one expires. So there should even more revenue to spend by 2014 or 2015.

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          • Bulls says:

            We should get a HUGE boost from our last deal too. TB fans may not go to games but a pretty good number watch on TV

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    • Dave L says:

      Im with Cork 100% on this one. The revenue pie gets bigger but our slice remains the same. Overall all MLB players will get more salary but the Rays players percentage wont change and thus our ability to compete financially will be the same.

      I bet AF has already sent the Dodgers a wish list of top prospects in their organization we want in return for Sheilds.

      A list of 6 or 7 guys of which we want 4 to 6 of.

      Criteria?

      1) Under age 28
      2) Still have options left
      3) Total combined salary commitments for 2013 under $3 million

      Hopefully middle infielders and 1st base/DH types and a catcher if we are lucky. We will probably ask for a pitcher too.

      Just dont be disappointed if we dont get anyone proven, cause that costs money and we this is the Rays

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      • Drew says:

        I think the point needs to be made that while all teams will see a $$ boost from the national TV deal, some of those teams (Yankees, Phillies, Tigers) will most likely not be able to spend it on players due to the cap penalities enforced by the new CBA. While that's only 3 teams (or so), two of them are in direct competition with the Rays for a playoff spot. Additionally, I think it still favors the Rays as their FO is known for doing more with less. Any revenue increase will give them an advantage because they are one of the best in baseball at spending efficiency. I personally don't care if they spend only 5% of the increase on player payroll and put the rest into player development and scouting (on the OFFENSIVE side).

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  2. don says:

    Shields has got to be chomping at the bit for this one...a chance to go to Hollywood with Magic johnson and the big boys,
    Dave is right we get a bunch of young kids that may help in 3/4 years for peanuts and unload $25 mil..next 2 years......
    Rays kinda deal...50/50% chance..

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  3. Beazy says:

    Shields for Crawford!!!

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  4. Alex says:

    Does anyone really think they have the resources for Shields? They traded for AGon, Hanely, Becket, Crawford etc...

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    • don says:

      Actually $10mil for a "frontline" starter(15 gamewinner+/-) doing 200 innings,complete games,almost always 6+innings
      is very reasonable for quality minded (not cheap) franchise
      Give up a bunch of young kids that aren't going to play for the Dodgers anyway...How do they lose?

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  5. dan r says:

    Sorry guys, but we KEEP James the greater. . . I have used the term "kids teaching kids" multiple times, we can't go back to that. He is the leader of the pitching staff, (and probably a major voice in the overall clubhouse) the flag bearer of the "rays way". He stays, in fact find a way to keep him here 5-7 more years. . .

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  6. Dustin says:

    Seriously, the Dodgers don't have any position player on their roster, other than Kemp and (maybe) Gonzalez, that I'd want over Shields, even if money didn't matter. Their farm system is weak, and their good second-tier position players, I'm thinking of Ethier and Ellis here, are underwhelming. I find it difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Rays and Dodgers get any kind of a deal done.

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