At some unknown point, the Orioles search for pitching led them to talk to the San Diego Padres about possibly acquiring starter James Shields. That's according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, who adds that "several" teams have talked about Padres, but nothing appears to be close to happening.
This is one of those rumors where the timing will determine how interesting it is. If they had this discussion yesterday, that's more interesting than if the O's had the discussion last month, before they signed Yovani Gallardo.
The Orioles did get a pitcher from the Padres over the winter when they picked up Odrisamer Despaigne for minor leaguer Jean Cosme. It's also possible they talked about Shields at that time, realized there was no match, and the two teams made a different trade instead. So if this is relaying fruitless discussions from January, that's also less interesting than if they asked yesterday.
Shields, now 34, is due a guaranteed $65 million over the next three seasons. That's $21 million per season for the next three seasons plus a $2 million buyout on a club option for the 2019 season. He also has a dreaded opt-out in his contract following this season. He would have to be very confident in himself or the market to opt out of $44 million guaranteed to him heading into his age 35 season.
It was a strange 2015 season for Shields, who struck out batters at a higher rate than ever, but also doubled his walk rate compared to what he did in 2014 with the Royals - going from 4.7% to 9.4%. And despite pitching with Petco Park as a home stadium, Shields gave up more home runs than ever.
That led to a 3.91 ERA, the highest for Shields since 2010, and his fewest innings pitched since his rookie season of 2006. That second tidbit is misleading, admittedly, as Shields still crossed the 200 inning mark, which he's done every full big league season of his career.
It's a safe guess the best of Shields is in the past, but there might still be decent-to-good seasons left in him. Worth giving up whatever the Padres would want for him? That's the trick, isn't it?
The Orioles, as has been harped on before and will be harped on again, don't have much in the way to offer at all once you exclude players they won't or shouldn't trade. So as with all baseball rumors: Probably nothing will happen. We are probably living the future where nothing already happened! But it's interesting they asked.