Miami is interested in James Shields. And then the club is not. Regardless of the Marlins' level of interest, Shields has yet to be close to signing with a team, and as spring training gets closer, should be getting cheaper. The Marlins appear to be content with their starting rotation, but according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, a last minute two-year offer could make sense for Miami.
Shields, 33, posted a 3.21 ERA and 3.59 FIP in 227.0 innings pitched with the Royals last season. He is a durable option, and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Shields is now expecting a four or five-year deal worth $70 or $80 million, and that he would ideally like to pitch for a Western team. Miami would clearly not be the West Coast squad Shields could be looking to join, however the club's offseason moves may be enough to convince Shields the team is planning on competing consistently.
Mat Latos, Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, David Phelps, and Aaron Crow are all expected to see starting time this spring. The uncertainty with regard to the Dan Haren situation (still adamant he will report but would like to see a trade) could make Shields an intriguing option, considering he would be a front of the rotation arm that would anchor the staff until Jose Fernandez returns in the summer. Miami is familiar with Shields, as General Manager Dan Jennings drafted him in Tampa Bay and Chuck Hernandez used to work within the Rays' organization.
Miami has likely been hesitant to explore signing Shields because of the price tag attached. He reportedly has a $110 million offer and was seeking a contract in that range. While a $70-$80 million contract may still be too expensive for the Marlins, a two-year deal might be realistic. $35 million may appear expensive for two seasons, but it is unlikely Shields lands a one-year deal because of the draft pick that is lost when he gets signed.
Latos will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Haren may opt to retire. Fernandez will be healthy, and a two-year deal would likely make the Marlins even more competitive in 2016, with a rotation featuring Fernandez, Shields, and Alvarez.
As Frisaro notes, if the Marlins truly would like to pursue Shields, they would have to receive permission from Owner Jeffrey Loria. The payroll will likely be between $60 and $70 million, and Loria may not approve it getting much larger than that.
Shields would be a quality addition to a young Marlins rotation. But if he is still seeking a four or five year contract, the Marlins should not be interested.