August 30, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) pitches the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
A couple of days ago, I posed a question: should the Athletics re-tool and go for broke in 2015, or should they replenish their minor leagues and try and win on the backs of their farm system? Thus far, 75% of voters feel that the A’s should re-tool. This got me thinking. What if the Athletics could do both?
The proposition itself is simple, but having it happen would mean that Lew Wolff would have to spend some money. Make those odds as you will.
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What if the A’s signed free-agent-to-be, James Shields to a deal this offseason, and traded the one year they have of Jeff Samardzija? Shields has a career ERA of 3.73, but this season he holds a 3.23. Samardzija has a career 3.94 mark, with a 3.21 this season. They are similar pitchers in that regard.
Signing Shields, in my estimation, would cost the Athletics about $15 million per season. If they could get him to agree to a four-year deal, that’s still $60 million over the life of the contract. Shields is making $13.5 million this season in the final year of his back-end-heavy seven-year deal.
Adding Shields would make Samardzija expendable, and the Athletics should be able to get a decent return for the 29-year old righty. Just look at the potential the A’s gave up to get him (and Jason Hammel). A return wouldn’t be that lucrative, but there could be a couple of solid pieces involved. Instead of Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and Addison Russell, maybe the A’s could land 2-3 Billy McKinneys. Or pitching. The A’s love to stockpile young arms.
If this idea is passing through my head, I’m sure it has passed through Beane’s already. It all comes down to how much the A’s would be willing to offer James Shields. Recent trends say it probably won’t be enough to land Shields in Oakland, but if Lew Wolff really wants to stay in Oakland, he may as well start spending some money.