The experiment AJ Preller started in the 2015 offseason is officially in full rebuild-mode. James Shields signed the biggest contract in Padres history just a year ago, and is already being dealt to the White Sox. Per Bleacher Report, the official terms have the Padres shipping Shields with cash to Chicago ($29 million to be exact; Chicago only to pay $27 million of remaining contract). San Diego will receive P Erik Johnson and INF Fernando Tatis Jr., son of former big-leaguer of the same name.
In AJ Preller’s first year, James Shields was nearly the final piece to his highly acclaimed first season as General Manager. He had added Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, and Wil Myers beforehand, and then adding Craig Kimbrel/Melvin Upton Jr. shortly after. After the Shields trade, only Kemp, Norris, Myers, and Upton Jr. remain on the team. Only time will tell if the others are traded this season.
This trade happens only a few days after Ron Fowler made National Headlines for the ripping of his organization. Fowler discussed his frustration with the way the team has been playing, but also singled out James Shields in his comments to the media. Shields had come off a game where he given up 10 runs in 2.2 innings. It was rumored that Shields was not very happy with the public display that was made regarding him.
This trade may be looked at as a win for many Padres fans. James Shields had a backloaded contract, paying him like a premiere ace in his last few seasons. At 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA, this is perhaps Shields worst start to a season. He has arguably not played well as a whole in his tenure with San Diego. Despite the $29 million buyout, the Padres still dump a pretty hefty salary. This may give them more wiggle room in the upcoming offseason.
For the very same reason, we may see high money players like Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. be traded away by the All-Star Break. San Diego has some minor league players like Hunter Renfroe that are ready to get their shots in the Majors.
Erik Johnson is a 26-year old starting pitcher who has played minimally in the Majors over a 4-year career. He is currently in Triple-A, but may get a shot right away in San Diego’s rotation. He has a 4.24 ERA in 86.1 Major League innings pitched.
Infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. is said to be a Top-30 prospect. He has power and was highly rated in the White Sox organization. Receiving Tatis Jr. was more than likley the reason that the Padres had to scoop so much cash out to Chicago to get rid of Shields. It remains to be seen if he will have a shot in the Majors this year.