Padres win the Shields sweepstakes

The Padres have reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with James Shields, taking the top remaining free agent off the market. The club is yet to confirm the signing.

Shields, who was believed to originally be seeking a nine-figure contract, instead settled for a deal that is worth between $72 million and $75 million, a source told MLB.com’s Corey Brock. The deal, which is pending a physical, also carries a club option for a fifth year.

It’s unclear who the Padres ultimately beat out to sign Shields, but the Cubs and Marlins were both among the teams still linked to Shields over the past week. Whether or not either of those teams — or another team entirely — extended an actual offer to the 33-year-old righty is unknown at this point.

As for the Padres, an argument can be made that they will enter the upcoming season with the most improved roster — on paper, at least. Along with a revamped offense that includes Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers, the Padres now have a rotation that could help them compete in a division that features the defending World Series champion Giants, as well as the reigning division champion Dodgers.

Shields will slot into the top of a rotation that already included Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy. The final spot figures to be filled by one of Brandon Morrow, Robbie Erlin or Odrisamer Despaigne.

— Paul Casella

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