Tigers said no to asking price for Shields

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
James Shields

Detroit -- Maybe he didn't have a clue, but the larger-than-your-average smirk suggested he might.

"Yeah?" White Sox catcher -- and former Tiger Alex Avila -- said Saturday, when told the James Shields-to-Chicago rumors were heating up. "We'll see."

And, now, we have.

It turns out the White Sox did some heavy shopping while in Detroit, acquiring Shields, the big right-hander, from the San Diego Padres. Shields is heading back to the American League Central, the White Sox made official during the third inning of Saturday's game against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

According to a source with knowledge of the Padres’ thinking, San Diego brass reached out to "every team in contention" looking to find the best return for Shields, who is under contract through 2018, at $21 million annually in 2016, '17 and '18. There's a lclub option for $16 million, with a $2 million buyout, for 2019.

The Padres considered the Tigers -- who've had their issues in the rotation, mostly with Anibal Sanchez, since sent to the bullpen, and Mike Pelfrey, Saturday's starter who might not have a ton of leash left -- among those contenders, and reached out to team executives, according to the source. And the Tigers listened, as any team would, but found the asking price way out of their range.

The Padres, who'll eat about half of Shields' remaining salary, were said to be after top shortstop prospect Tim Anderson from the White Sox. So if you're comparing the White Sox to the Tigers, discussions could've started with the likes of pitchers Michael Fulmer or Daniel Norris, two guys ESPN's Keith Law said, in a conversation this week with The Detroit News, the Tigers can build their future rotation around.

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Likewise, the White Sox said no on Anderson. The Padres settled for right-handed reliever Erik Johnson and minor-league shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the son of the long-time big-league outfielder.

Shields, 34, was an ace during his days with the Tampa Bay Rays, and continued his fine career with two seasons with the Kansas City Royals before signing a four-year, $75-million deal with the Padres.

Last season, his first in San Diego, he was 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA, allowing a league-most 33 homers, despite pitching in one of the tougher hitter stadiums in baseball, Petco Park.

This season, he's 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.426 WHIP in 11 starts.

With the White Sox, he joins an already formidable rotation that includes Saturday's starter Chris Sale, Sunday's starter Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon and offseason pickup Mat Latos.

The White Sox started the season 23-10, but have since lost 16 of their last 22, including Friday's 10-3 loss to the Tigers in the opener of a three-game series.

Shields could join the team in Detroit on Sunday, but might just catch up to his new teammates in Chicago for the start of a series against the Washington Nationals. Shields could Tuesday's series opener.

The Padres are an absolute mess, at 22-34. Their owner already has ripped them publicly, and then the team went out and blew a 10-run lead in losing a game to the Seattle Mariners.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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