And What About a James Shields Deal…

There has been (for some time now, actually) some chatter among Reds fans and blogs that Reds GM Walt Jocketty would be better served to go out and land another top of the rotation starter. Can’t say I’m against that by any means. The name we’re most reading is that of Tampa Bay Rays starter James Shields. A theory (and far from the only one) is that if Walt were to make such a transaction, the Reds would be sending a starter to Tampa.

Maybe not so. I’ll get back to that point here in a minute or two.

Before delving any further, here’s a list of starters currently on the Reds 40-man with MLB experience (in no particular order): Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez and Travis Wood. That’s six if you weren’t counting. Add that the Reds are looking to move Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation, and your new total is seven. Sound familiar?

It’s now a newsy item that Sports Illustrated’s Joe Sheehan recently stated this deal involving the Reds and Rays should be made: The Reds would get Shields in exchange for Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez. One reason Sheehan proposes such is that the Rays are deep in starters. Another is that Alonso is a first baseman and should not be put in left field due to the fact it could hinder Alonso’s development and, at the same time, provide the Reds with less defense.

I kind of agree with the last two points. Alonso is still questionable as a left fielder and he would also be at his best defensive position and be closer to home as well. That part also makes sense. I’m not sold on the inclusion of Volquez since the Rays presumably have too many starters. The only way it does makes any sense is if the Rays turn around and deal Volquez.

And the finances could work as well. Here’s how that all shakes…

Shields will draw $7 million for 2012 due to the option being picked up by the Rays. The remainder of his contract looks like this:

  • 2013: $9 million (club option, $1.5 million buyout)
  • 2014: $12 million (club option, $1 million buyout)

On the flip side, Alonso will make $1 million in 2012 and Volquez could make around $2.3 million for next season. The Reds would, in essence, be only paying about half of that $7 million, or roughly a $3.7 million net. Of course, you do have to consider beyond the 2012 season.

For next seson alone, this deal looks just peachy. The money you’re saving by (potentially) not bringing back Francisco Cordero goes to a TOR arm in Shields. It’s a “win-win”. The Reds land a TOR guy. The Rays save a little more cash. All looks great, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, I once again went to the masses to inquire about deals the Reds should make. Two of the three suggested involved something around this same scenario. One was Alonso, Volquez and possibly a PTBNL for Shields. The other was Wood, Leake and another prospect for Shields. Again, I can’t see Wood and Leake going to Tampa due to the plethora of starters. Unless, that is, the Rays decide to utilize those two in another trade. The other was basically the same except the Reds may have to add a little more to the mix.

You may not want to look at all of this too much though. If you take into account what Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo said on Sunday, the Rays aren’t looking to deal Shields. They may wish to deal Wade Davis instead. With Matt Moore‘s performance, Davis just might now be deemed as expendable. And Davis, while not considered a TOR guy, might not be a bad deal and the Reds would most likely not have to deliver as much to Tampa. Still, that option is less desirable.

Cafardo also brings up this. The Rays are looking for outfield and catching help. Volquez and Alonso don’t exactly fit that bill. But the Rays may need a first baseman since Casey Kotchman is a free agent. Alonso would be a cheaper option dollar-wise. And the Rays are all about the saving money. The Reds also have a few backstops, too. That would be interesting to say the least.

Maybe the bigger question is this simple. Would Rays GM Andrew Friedman do the SI proposed deal? Then I thought of this question: Would Friedman consider any deal for Sheilds? That might be the better question to ask. From my understanding, the Reds did inquire about the availability of Shields this past season. Also, if my memory serves me correctly, didn’t we hear that the Rays were not interested in trading Matt Garza? Where’s he at now?

That’s my point. We can’t totally rule a Shields deal out of the picture.