Shields foresees fruitful tenure in San Diego
Though club may reload by Friday's Deadline, righty envisions bright future
NEW YORK -- Padres general manager A.J. Preller may prove James Shields wrong by Friday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the big right-hander doesn't believe he's going anywhere.
"As far as I'm concerned, I think I'm going to be here for a while," Shields said after he started Tuesday night's 4-0 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. "That's why I signed up to be a Padre, not only to win now, but to win in the next four years. I think we're on the right track. We've just got to keep rolling."
The Padres finished an offseason of changes by signing Shields on Feb. 11 to a four-year deal worth $75 million. The contract includes a $16 million club option and a $2 million buyout for 2019. Shields doesn't have a no-trade clause, but he can opt out of the contract after the 2016 season.
San Diego has been shopping free agents-to-be Justin Upton, Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy, but the reason Shields' name has been tossed around in trade rumors is because his contract accelerates from $10 million this season to $21 million per year for the next three seasons.
But it doesn't seem likely Shields will be among those Padres traded by the Deadline.
"I don't think there's any urgency to get rid of anyone," San Diego manager Pat Murphy said on Wednesday. "If there's an opportunity to make the organization stronger and if one of those opportunities make sense, they'll probably pull the trigger on some things."
About trading Shields, Murphy added: "I think the only way the organization would consider anything like that if it's an A-1 deal with great prospects coming, the top three or four."
Shields is 8-4 with 3.77 ERA in 22 starts after allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts in his seven-inning start on Tuesday. He opened the season 7-1 but has won only once since June 3, a span of 10 starts.
In talking with MLB.com, Shields discussed the team, the future and his own status.
MLB.com: With the Trade Deadline coming up, was that on your mind when you were on the mound on Tuesday night with your name being bounced around in rumors?
Shields: I thought I pitched pretty well, so no.
MLB.com: What do you think about this Deadline? And where do you think the Padres could be in a year or two?
Shields: To be honest with you, I'm not really worried about it. I'm just worried about winning ballgames. That's what the front office is there for. It's their job to worry about it.
MLB.com: The Padres have played better since the All-Star break, and you were on a Rays team that came back in 2011 to make the playoffs. What is it going to take for the Padres to do the same thing?
Shields: Win more games. That's it. You look at September -- we've got to face the Dodgers seven more times, we've got to face the Giants six more times. There are a lot of ballgames to play. Obviously, we want to put ourselves in a good position going into August. We were 10 1/2 games back [on Sept. 6] when I was with the Rays and wound up going to the playoffs. Anything can happen. That's the beauty of this game. We just have to remain consistent in the second half and play really good baseball.
MLB.com: Do you still believe this is a good team?
Shields: Absolutely. We're starting to hit the ball a little bit, and I think we've been pitching really well for the past two months. If we continue that, we're going to be just fine.
MLB.com: So how do you assess the whole season?
Shields: It's a game of inches. That's it. We went through a stretch right before the break when we lost five games by two runs or less, four by a run. We were losing games that we could have won. The Joc Pederson catch at the end of the extra-inning game against the Dodgers [on June 14] that robbed Justin Upton of the game-winning hit -- that was just one of them. There were a lot of others.
MLB.com: Joe Torre once said that when a team makes even one major change, it takes months to develop its character and chemistry. And you guys made a lot of them.
Shields: Oh, absolutely. When I got traded over to Kansas City [in December 2012], it took us a year and a half. I think we were two games over .500 going into the break last year, and we ended up losing to the Giants on the last pitch of the World Series. Like I said, it takes a while. I think we're on the right track, and we've got to keep things positive in this clubhouse.
MLB.com: Do you think the expectations coming out of Spring Training were a little bit unrealistic? Even more so after you guys opened 10-5?
Shields: I don't think they were unrealistic just because of the fact that we had a lot of veterans. But the bottom line is you've got to put it together. We haven't done that so far this season. It seems like we're starting to do that right now.
MLB.com: Considering it all, perhaps the last thing management should do is tear the team apart at this point, don't you think?
Shields: Look, I don't know about all of that. I'm here to win ballgames and pitch every five days. Like I said, I like the guys in this clubhouse.
MLB.com: And you're from L.A. You have a house in San Diego County. Are you still happy you signed with the Padres?
Shields: Of course, I am. I love San Diego. So that part of it has worked out. It worked out great. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else except San Diego.