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Get ready, everyone. We're 57 days away from the non-waiver trade deadline, and the action has already started. The White Sox made a move on Saturday, trading for Padres pitcher James Shields and sending shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. and right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson to San Diego. Shields was originally signed in February 2015 for four years and $75 million, and he has $58 million left on that deal. The Padres are sending a boat load of cash along with Shields -- $27 million, that includes the $5 million he's still owed this year, $10 million each for 2017 and 2018, and the $2 million buyout for 2019.
There are a few things the White Sox could have done at this early juncture, and shoring up their rotation is certainly one of them. It's not that Mat Latos and Miguel Gonzalez are bad, because they're not. But James Shields, despite coughing up 10 runs in his last start with the Padres, is an upgrade. Before that disastrous start, Shields had a 3.06 ERA, almost a run higher than both Latos and Gonzalez. South Side Sox points out that Shields' strikeouts per nine innings (7.6) is significantly higher than Latos' (5.0). And Ken Rosenthal wrote last Saturday that Shields would be a good addition for the White Sox, despite the slowing down that typically occurs to pitchers of his age (he's 34).
While this trade shows that the White Sox are bulking up after their encouraging start, it signals that the Padres are admitting defeat and starting over. They came out with guns blazing in the offseason before the 2015 season, signing/trading for Shields, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, and more. They were going to try and dominate their stacked division. Now, less than two years later, everything is falling apart. They're constantly making news for being increasingly embarrassing on the field, and their own principal owner Ron Fowler mercilessly slammed them in a live interview. They Padres may not know what road they're traveling or how fast they're going, but trading Shields to the White Sox means they've at least started the journey toward a rebuild.
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