Insider: James Shields Westward Bound?
The Rays have made several moves over the last week. Most notably, picking up the club options on starter James Shields and closer Fernando Rodney. Shields will now earn $9.5 million during the 2013 season but will it be in a Rays uniform?
Several teams are searching for starting pitching. Shields heard his name tossed around in July before the trade deadline so it's no surprise for him to hear similar stories as we head into the off-season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been identified as one of the teams interested in the former all star right-hander. The Dodgers have shown in recent months that, under new ownership, they are not afraid to spend top-dollar to acquire top-talent.
If the Dodgers are in fact the front runner in a potential deal for Shields, what should the Rays ask for in return? The Dodgers traded some of their top prospects to the Red Sox in the August blockbuster involving Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and former Rays outfielder, Carl Crawford. In addition, several of the Dodgers remaining prospects are pitchers, not what the Rays are looking for. If Shields is dealt to Los Angeles, expect the Rays to ask for MLB-ready talent to help the offense. An offense that ranked 13th, 11th, and 12th in the American League in hits, runs, and batting average, respectively. One player that would certainly help provide some help is shortstop Dee Gordon.
Gordon struggled for the Dodgers in 2012 but he was a sensational boost when he was called up in June of 2011. The Dodgers appear to be happy with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop so Gordon may find himself without an everyday spot in the lineup. His .302 batting average during five seasons in the minors suggests that he should bounce back from his .228 batting average in 87 games last season. His runs scored (38) were down because of the low batting average but his 32 stolen bases provide a glimpse into what he is capable of if he can raise his batting average back to the .290 to .300 range.