ST. PETERSBURG, FL: Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays checks a runner at first base against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Will the Tampa Bay Rays move James Shields in advance of the trade deadline? The answer is a resounding "perhaps".
A common refrain around this time of year, with the trade deadline coming soon, is that a team can never have too much pitching. The Tampa Bay Rays, however, might have too much pitching, and they have too little hitting, especially with Evan Longoria still sidelined with stolencapitis. The Rays are well out of first place in the AL East but within baby-snake striking distance of the wild card, and now James Shields trade rumors are popping up for the nth consecutive season.
Only half a game out of the second wild-card spot but in desperate need of an offensive boost, the Rays are suggesting to teams that they'll be willing to trade Shields, even if they still believe they can compete for a playoff spot.
Plenty of teams would be interested in Shields, who's been impossibly durable and who would come with postseason experience. Shields has a $9 million club option for 2013 and a $12 million club option for 2014. His single-season ERAs the last few years have bounced from the 5s to the 2s to the 4s, but all along his strikeouts and walks have been good, and now Shields is generating grounders too, for good measure. Shields is a valuable player who might get traded within a couple weeks, and that's a sentence that could describe hundreds of major leaguers.