Miami has been linked to James Shields since December, and the club appears to still be in the hunt. The former Kansas City Royal is expected to sign with a team before the end of the week, and according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the Marlins are still interested.
While some outlets have reported the Marlins have not had a chance to sign Shields from the outset, the 33-year old veteran would be an upgrade to the front of the rotation that will not feature Jose Fernandez until the second half of the season. Since Shields has yet to sign, a four or five year deal worth $70 or $80 million may be enough to land one of the top free agent arms. However, the Marlins have to be willing to invest.
Shields reportedly would like to pitch on the West Coast, and as a result, the Marlins may not make sense. The Padres may be the best available option for him, however a young core that improved by 15 games in 2014 may rightfully be attractive to Shields. The opportunity to make half of his starts at spacious Marlins Park could also lure Shields to Miami.
Although he could get costly, Shields has proven to be durable throughout the course of his major league career. He has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the last eight seasons, but his age has raised several questions. Frisaro notes a three year deal would be ideal for the Marlins, who also took a chance on Mark Buehrle at 33 before trading him to Toronto.
Miami added a top arm in Mat Latos, however Latos will be a free agent after the season. It is still unclear if Dan Haren will pitch for the Marlins in 2015, as he would still like to be traded to a Western team. Financially, the Marlins will owe Latos either $9.4 or $10.4 million next season, and the outcome of his arbitration case may determine if the Marlins strongly consider signing Shields.