Shields to San Diego ‘gaining momentum’

The Padres are the favorite to land free-agent right-hander James Shields, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweeted Saturday afternoon, while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets several teams remain in the race.

San Diego has been the main team linked to Shields in the last few days, and talks between the two sides were “gaining momentum,” according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report on Saturday morning.

Miller notes Shields likes the idea of pitching in San Diego and Petco Park, a notorious pitcher’s park. Shields has spent his entire nine-year career in the American League and has only pitched in San Diego once — throwing seven shutout innings.

Shields was 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 34 starts for the Royals last season and has logged at least 200 innings in each of the last eight years.

— Cash Kruth

Cliff Lee on the move this spring?

It’s been no secret that the Phillies have been trying to move veterans this offseason. They’ve already traded SS Jimmy Rollins and they’re reportedly open to dealing starting pitcher Cole Hamels and closer Jonathan Papelpon.

On Friday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported that lefty starter Cliff Lee could also be on the move as soon as Spring Training, if Lee is healthy.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported earlier this month that Lee could be a valuable trade chip for Philadelphia around the July 31 Trade Deadline. But it seems possible that the timetable has moved up.

Lee was limited to 13 starts last season because of a left elbow injury. He is owed $25 million in 2015 and has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout. The option becomes guaranteed with 200 innings pitched in 2015.

— Mark Sheldon

Shields to San Diego?

The Padres might have one big move left in an eventful offseason.

A day after Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler told MLB.com via email there is room to add payroll, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted there is growing speculation that free-agent right-hander James Shields will land in San Diego.

The Padres’ current payroll currently sits just shy of $90 million, which was their 2014 Opening Day payroll and a franchise record.

Shields was believed to have been seeking a contract in excess of five years and $100 million earlier in the offseason, but as time wears on his price tag appears to have dropped.

Shields, 33, was 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA last year and has been one of the game’s most durable pitchers over the past several seasons.

— Cash Kruth

Brewers still considering K-Rod, negotiating for Papelbon

The Brewers are still talking to the Phillies about potentially acquiring Jonathan Papelbon, though Milwaukee is also considering a contingency plan that would involve re-signing Francisco Rodriguez, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The Brewers have been linked to Papelbon for weeks, but Heyman reports that any potential trade continues to be hung up by the Phillies’ desired return. Philadelphia is apparently unhappy with the Brewers’ current offer for Papelbon, who is due  $13 million this season and also has a vesting option for 2016 worth same amount, assuming he finishes 48 games in 2015.

Papelbon is coming off another strong season in which he racked up a 2.04 ERA while saving 39 games for the Phils. The 34-year-old reliever has posted a sub-3.00 ERA in nine of his 10 big league seasons and has a 2.37 career ERA overall.

As for Rodriguez, who just turned 33 last month, he’s also coming off an impressive 2014 campaign. He notched a 3.04 ERA and 44 saves for the Brewers, while finishing an NL-best 66 games. Rodriguez also posted a 1.09 ERA over 25 appearances with the Brewers in 2013 before being traded to the Orioles and later re-signing with Milwaukee in the offseason.

— Paul Casella

Cubs ‘kicking the tires’ on Shields

The Cubs significantly upgraded their starting rotation earlier in the off season when they signed Jon Lester, but it turns out the club is considering signing another top-flight arm.

According to a report from Comcast Sports Net Chicago, the Cubs are ‘kicking the tires’ on James Shields.

Multiple reports have suggested Shields is likely to make a decision by the end of the week, with multiple teams in contention.

Shields, 33, posted a 3.21 ERA last season while going 14-8.

The right-hander was believed to have been seeking a contract in excess of five years and $100 million earlier in the off season, but as time wears on his price tag appears to have dropped.

Shields is now expected to sign a four-year deal worth roughly $70 to $80 million.

– William Boor

Marlins among the teams still pursuing Shields

Though it’s unclear whether or not they are a frontrunner in the James Shields sweepstakes, the Marlins at least “remain in talks” to potentially sign the free agent right-hander, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.

Shields’ market has started to develop rapidly this week, with FOX Sports’ Jon Heyman even reporting that Shields has “multiple offers in hand” and could sign somewhere by the end of the week. It obviously remains unclear which teams exactly have extended those offers, though reports have suggested that neither the Red Sox nor the Royals are among those suitors.

Along with the Marlins, the Padres and Blue Jays have both been mentioned as potential landing spots. There have also been conflicting reports regarding the Yankees’ interest, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post saying they are “not in play” for Shields and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeting that he is hearing the Yanks are “now actively pursuing” him.

It should also be noted that Shields apparently prefers to play on the West Coast near his home in San Diego. That report would obviously suggest that the Padres have an advantage in that regard, but it’s unclear whether or not that will factor into Shields’ final decision.

Though there may not be a frontrunenr as of right now, Shields’ situation should continue to come into focus in the coming days.

— Paul Casella

Moncada hoping to sign somewhere soon

Now that he’s officially been declared a free agent, top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada told MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez that he hopes to “sign with a team soon.”

The 19-year-old Moncada has already held private workouts for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays, Tigers and Brewers. Other teams could also make a push to sign Moncada now that he’s actually allowed to sign a deal.

“My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them, and make it to the Major Leagues as fast as I can with whichever team that might be,” Moncada said in Spanish to MLB.com in his first interview since arriving in the United States in late November. “I know I’m going to do the best I can for as long as I can in this sport.”

Naturally a shortstop, Moncada can also play second or third base. The Yankees and Red Sox have long been mentioned as the potential favorites to sign Moncada, but the Dodgers have also been floated as one of the most likely landing spots.

— Paul Casella

Yankees “not in play” for Shields

Free agent starting pitcher James Shields is reportedly close to signing with a team this week, but the Yankees are not one of those clubs, according to multiple reports.

The Yankees are “not in in play” for a significant free agent starting pitcher such as Shields, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirmed that information, adding that the Bronx Bombers preferred Max Scherzer and never seriously pursued him in free agency this winter.

The Yankees already have a number of starters on their roster, including: CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano and Adam Warren.

Shields is mulling a number of options and is expected to sign a contract by the end of this week, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Shields was initially expected to command a contract of at least $100 million, but his price tag appears to have dropped as the offseason has progressed. The 33-year-old is now expected to sign a deal in the $70 to $80 million range, which could bring more teams back in on the bidding.

But the Yankees apparently are not one of the bidders.

–Austin Laymance

Shields expected to sign by the end of the week

James Shields’ free agency has dragged along into February, and appears to finally be entering the final stages.

Rumors about Shields were swirling around all day Tuesday, and now Shields is reported to have multiple offers in his hand and will accept one by the end of the week, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

Shields was initially expected to command a contract of at least five years, $100 million but his price tag appears to have dropped. He is now expected to sign a four-year deal in the $70 to $80 million range, reigniting some teams’ interest for the biggest prize remaining on the market.

And one of the usual aggressive bidders appears no longer content with remaining dormant. A rival general manager told Morosi that he believes the Yankees are now actively pursuing Shields.

The Yankees have been reluctant all offseason to join in on the bidding on any of the top of the line free agents, not wanting to accept anymore large contracts. They did not make an offer to Jon Lester or Max Scherzer and were thought to be out on Shields as well.

The Yankees are counting on starters such as CC Sabathia, Mashario Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, each of whom spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list last season. Shields, meanwhile, has made 31 or more starts in eight straight seasons.

Morosi also wrote on Twitter that multiple execs have mentioned the Padres as a team they believe has had recent talks with Shields’ agent, Page Odle.

Earlier in the day, the Cardinals were reported as one of the teams “showing interest” in Shields, citing that his new price tag may be too good to pass up.

-Jamal Collier

Gonzalez, O’s settle on one-year deal

Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles have reportedly come to terms on a one-year contract for 2015.

The 30-year-old right-hander avoided arbitration with a deal worth $3.275 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Gonzalez is entering his fourth year in the Majors. He’s 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA through three seasons in Baltimore (75 appearances, 69 starts).

The Orioles still have two remaining players — outfielder Alejandro De Aza and closer Zach Britton — up for arbitration with hearings scheduled for this month.

— Chad Thornburg

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