Miami was in on James Shields until he opted to sign with the San Diego Padres. Although the club was unable to add him this offseason, the Marlins offered Shields a three-year, $60 million contract, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
The Marlins discussed a three-year, $60 million deal with pitcherJames Shields before he took a four-year, $75 million offer from San Diego, according to a person with direct knowledge. The Marlins initially were reluctant to get involved but made an attempt late. But Shields said the Padres and Cubs were his finalists.
Shields, 33, has established himself as a durable and consistent starting pitcher. He reportedly had a $110 million offer at one point, but after he was unable to find a deal he thought was reasonable opted to sign a shorter-term deal with the Padres. While the Padres do not see Shields as a long term rotation option, the Marlins rightfully did not either. Miami's interest was based on when Jose Fernandez would return from Tommy John surgery. However, the club is confident in its pitching depth even without Shields.
The Marlins were thought to be in on Shields from the end of the Winter Meetings forward, though the club's interest may have diminished as time passed and Shields was still reluctant to accept a deal. Shields also wanted to sign with a West Coast team, and ultimately did so by accepting San Diego's deal. While the Marlins are always looking to upgrade, the price on Shields likely did not drop. A backloaded contract could have been realistic for the Marlins, who are in "win now" mode after signing Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year extension.
Although the Marlins will be without Fernandez for most of, if not all, of the first half of the season, the club is hoping Jarred Cosart, Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Henderson Alvarez, and Tom Koehler could turn in quality starts consistently. Miami's bullpen should be one of the best in baseball again in 2015, however the starters need to go deep in order for the squad to be successful. With Brad Hand, David Phelps, and Aaron Crow providing starting depth, paying $20 million a season for Shields likely would not have been necessary. He is experienced, but $20 million is a significant financial commitment for a small market team.
The fact that the Marlins made a run at Shields should be an encouraging sign. But the $20 million they would have invested could be better spent moving forward.