James Shields pitched very poorly in a 6-5 White Sox loss to San Diego on Monday. He struggled with command issues and had 3 walks in 2.2 innings. The veteran right-hander allowed 4 runs(2 earned), and he received his first loss of Spring Training. Shields also committed a throwing error which caused the 2 unearned runs to cross home plate.

The White Sox acquired Shields from the San Diego Padres last season, and calling his performance abysmal is an extreme understatement. He pitched 22 games for the Sox and posted a horrendous 6.77 ERA. Shields won just 4 games on the South Side, and he allowed more earned runs than he had strikeouts. At the time, the acquisition of Shields looked like it was going to add depth to a White Sox rotation that was looking to play postseason baseball. When asked to look back at the mid-season deal at Sox Fest, GM Rick Hahn admitted that it now appears to be a poor trade on behalf of the White Sox. However, Chicago did not part with much in the trade; they traded fringe player Erik Johnson and young shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

When they made the trade, the Chicago White Sox were beginning to slip in the AL Central standings after getting off to a blazing 23-10 start to the season. Obviously the acquisition of James Shields was a move made to bolster the roster and make a push for the playoffs. Now the time has come for the front office to make a decision on Shields’s future with the club. Chicago began the commitment to a full rebuild this offseason by trading Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. Shields is by no means a young player, and he will not be on the White Sox roster the next time they are competing for a spot in the postseason.

With that in mind, the question of what to do with Shields comes to mind. Shields is owed a whopping $42 million over his last 2 seasons under contract with the White Sox. Nice signing, Padres! Given how poorly he pitched last season, it is extremely unlikely that the White Sox would be able to find a trade partner for Shields. I can’t imagine many teams would want to take on a pitcher with a declining career and a ton of money owed to him. Maybe I’m not giving Shields any credit, but I don’t see him bouncing back to the point where the Sox have opposing clubs looking to make a deal. If he is anywhere near as bad as he was last year, the Sox would HAVE to do something with him.

The White Sox could possibly follow a similar path with Shields, as they did with John Danks and Mat Latos last season. Danks got off to a very poor start in 2016, and the White Sox designated him for assignment because they felt that he was not in a position to help the team. Latos began the season with a fantastic 5-0 record but then tailed off and was also designated for assignment. However, it is unknown whether or not the Sox would do this with Shields because the team outlook is much different this season than it was last season. I wouldn’t think that Shields’s financial situation would play a part in his possible release. When the White Sox let go of John Danks, he was the highest paid player on the roster. Personally, I don’t see James Shields on the roster by the time the 2017 season ends. 


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