The Yankees main attention throughout the next few days leading up to the trade deadline is likely to be on finding a Brett Gardner replacement in the outfield, but that won’t keep Brian Cashman from considering upgrades to the rotation.
A deal between the Yankees and Rays has always been unlikely because of their inter-division rivalry. The Yankees have been hesitant to make a deal for a pitcher this season as they have had a full rotation and it’s been hard to find a good balance between cost and value of an upgrade. Shields could be one player who gives them a clear rotational upgrade though.
Or at least that’s been his M.O., however Shields has struggled quite a bit this season. Over 131.1 innings he has a 4.39 ERA, an 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. His problem has been the long ball, of which he has allowed a Phil Hughes-like 17 homers in 20 games. A quick look at Shield’s hit chart shows that the majority of the homers he allows are to right field as well which would make Yankee Stadium a potentially bad match for him.
Still, Shields has a long track record in the AL East going back to 2007 and his contract is about to get a lot more expensive. He is currently making $7 million after the Rays picked up his player option. He’s got two more options for 2013 and 2014 that are worth $9 and $12 million respectively. Not a huge amount of money for the Yankees, but potentially enough that the Rays would be willing to trade him.
Again though, it seems very unlikely that the Yankees and Rays would match up for a trade especially for a big piece like Shields. How would they justify losing the franchises best pitcher to the team they are supposed to beat for the division title? Brian Cashman is likely just monitoring the market.