As the Chicago White Sox continue on during their rebuild during the 2018 season, one of the more promising aspects has been the recent performance of starter James Shields.
Shields has pitched consistently well through the month of May to lead the young White Sox pitching rotation but more importantly has increased his trade value for the front office. General manager Rick Hahn has few tradable assets this season unlike last, but with every positive Shields start, he has more of an opportunity to cash in on.
In his last six starts, Shields has pitched six or more innings. Of those starts, five have been quality starts in which he only allowed three runs or less and three walks or less over six innings. In his three most recent starts, he has only allowed six total runs and his opponents are averaging just two runs in those three games against him.
What has worked for Shields is that he is pitching to contact as only struck out more than five batters just once over the six-start span.
These consistent numbers make Shields a very intriguing trade candidate as the MLB trade season heats up. One of the biggest commodities in demands leading up to the trade deadline every season is consistent starting pitching. Every season, one team has a starting pitcher that is coveted by teams in contention for the postseason, this year it may very well be Shields.
Back in 2016, Shields was in a very similar situation when he was a pitcher for the San Diego Padres. It was the White Sox who were in contention in May and traded four players for him including prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis Jr. wasn’t seen as a high-level prospect in the White Sox organization at the time but has now developed into the Padres number one prospect in their organization. When Shields started for the White Sox in 2016, the trade looked like a huge failure as he was historically bad allowing 21 runs in his first three starts.
Now with the way Shields is currently pitching, Hahn has a golden opportunity to redeem himself in getting the best possible return for his veteran pitcher.
As it stands on Memorial Day, five of the six division races feature three teams involved in playoff contention. If Shields can keep pitching consistently, this may create a heavily trade war between teams in both the American League and National League as the trade deadline draws closer.
Last season, Hahn made the most of his veteran-filled roster as he traded many of his proven players for other team’s future talent. Many of the trades were regarded as successful as Hahn was able to get the highest value in return for most of his trades. This season, he may be in just the same position to capitalize with the trade deadline putting pressure on opposing general managers for teams in contention.
Shields won’t garner the trade value the White Sox received for pitchers Chris Sale or Jose Quintana, but a GM could part with a quality prospect out of sheer desperation and fear of losing out to a division rival.
With the MLB heading into June shortly, trade rumors and possibilities will continue to grow. The White Sox have little to look forward to other then the development of their young talent with trade rumors for Shields being a source of optimism for the organization. Last season, Hahn was able to pit teams against one another to created added trade value which worked in his favor. As the deadline draws near, Shields may be able to provide the White Sox the trade value they once thought they could never get for him which would be an added surprise to a rebuilding team.