Rays sign starter Shields to long-term deal

January 23, 2008 at 8:42 am 11 comments

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The Rays completed a long-term deal with righ handed starter James Shields that could keep him with the team for up to seven seasons and pay him more than $38-million. This is a team that is going in the right direction and going there fast.

Here is the article from Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times:

Final details were worked out Tuesday night, with the team planning “a major announcement regarding a player signing” for 2 p.m. today.

“I just left a meeting and it’s a done deal,” agent Page Odle said late Tuesday. “He thinks they’re going to be something special, and he wants to be part of it. I know he’s very excited.”

The deal includes four guaranteed years and team options for three more seasons, with incentives that could push the total value above $40-million. The guaranteed portion of deal – the first four years of salary and a buyout of the options – is believed to be worth about $12-million.

As eye-catching as the dollar figures are, the deal is more interesting because Shields, 26, is two seasons from arbitration and five from free agency in 2013.

The Rays get cost certainty over the term of the deal and the opportunity, by exercising all three options, to “buy out” Shields’ first two seasons of free agency (keeping him through the 2014 season); Shields gets the security of the guaranteed money.

The deal is the latest investment by the Stuart Sternberg ownership to keep its best young players, and similar in structure to the pact signed in November 2005 by Rocco Baldelli, who got three years guaranteed for $5-million (plus a $4-million buyout) and three option years that could be worth another $23-million.

I love this deal for a few reasons. The first is that the deal potentially takes out the first two years of his free agency at what would be a bargain of a price if he pitches to the tune of 190 innings, 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA (the going rate for those stats is a Carlos Silva-type deal) but he has the ability to match last season’s numbers (12-8, 3.85, 184/36 K/BB rate – 2nd best in the Majors, all in 215 IP) in any given year.

The second reason I like this deal is that it says to the fans and to the baseball world that the Rays aren’t just changing their name, they are changing the way they play this game. They are on a mission to build from within and develop their own talent and compliment it with the right free agents. The recent long term deals with Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and now James Shields, plus the trades of Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young prove that the team is headed in the right direction.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joi Sharelli  |  January 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

    the good news for the Rays and Rays fans just keeps on coming! I am impressed with the way sternberg is handling these deals. When you have a good pitcher like James Shields, ink the deal! It’s going to be an exciting season for the Rays!

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  January 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I hope this proves to Scott Kazmir that the Rays are intent on winning. He said he doesn’t know if he wants to sign long term because the team’s inability to win but after the Pena signing he started to change his mind. Now this happens and you have to wonder if it’s enough to get Kazmir locked up too.

    Reply
  • 3. Trip  |  January 23, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    These are great deals being worked out with our core group of players. The owners really know what they are doing and I’m glad I’m finally feeling proud to call myself a veteran DEVIL Ray fan.

    Reply
  • 4. erik  |  January 23, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    good signing… he was the rays best pitcher last year and gives them a legit 1-2 starting staff.

    Reply
  • 5. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  January 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Be proud Trip! I am (try to br atleast) an unbiased writer but my team is the Rays and I am proud of the progress being made.

    erik – Shields was the most dependable pitcher last year. I would still give Kazmir the nod as best but Shileds was right there with him. What a great 1-2 combo.

    Reply
  • 6. Charlie Nehl  |  January 24, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Yeah, Kazmir is still the ace, but Shields is a _solid_ number 2, especially for such a young team. It’s possible this could be the year to get out of the cellar, because the Orioles are going nowhere fast.

    Reply
  • 7. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  January 24, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I honestly think the Orioles will be one of the 3 worst teams in all of baseball. I don’t think the Rays will have any trouble getting ahead of them.

    Reply
  • 8. Buddy  |  January 24, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Great signing. The Rays are definately moving in the right direction. The Rays pitching staff is now looking like one of the bright spots on the team, for once.

    Reply
  • 9. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  January 24, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Buddy! Glad to see you on here! I agree 100%. They have a good core of starters right now. Image when the prospects come up.

    Reply
  • 10. erik  |  January 27, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Rays should finish 3rd this year. Red Sox will still be the team to beat but baring anything … they should finish 3rd.

    Reply
  • 11. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  January 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I think that is possible but the Jays are gonna be hard to pass too.

    Reply

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