According to Buster Olney, the Tampa Bay Rays quickly shut down the New York Yankees inquiry about trading for starting pitcher James Shields. Earlier in the week, the rumor mill had the Cincinnati Reds as a leading candidate to trade for the Rays right-hander. They may very well be. Suffice it to say, Rays fans will be pleased to learn that the front office was not interested in trading away a valuable, lively arm to one of their chief rivals in the AL East. Maybe in years past Tampa Bay would have entertained the notion, knowing they weren’t anywhere near ready to contend for a divisional crown or wild card berth. But not anymore. Tampa Bay is 7 1/2 games back of New York heading into Friday night’s action, and 5 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the wild card.
Shields contract continues to escalate each year through 2014 with team options in each of the next three years. He’s making around $4.5 million this year, which isn’t chump change for the cash-strapped Rays. But really there’s no sense in dealing Shields this season when he’s cheaper than he’ll be in future years. You have to think there will still be suitors in the future that won’t blink an eye at the escalators in his contract.
Shields is 9-8 on the year with a Cy Young worthy ERA of just 2.53.