The San Diego Padres signed starting pitcher James Shields prior to the 2015 season hoping that he could at least turn into a solid number 2 starting pitcher. However, the signing has proven to be a bust and now just over a year after signing him the Padres are already getting rid of him. San Diego dealt Shields on Saturday to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson and young shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.
It’s unfortunate that San Diego had to make this trade because they made a ton of high-profile moves prior to the 2015 season that actually has made the team worse. Now, San Diego is trying to get rid of big name players that have yet to live up to the expectations with the Padres. Shields is likely just the first Padres player with a big contract to be traded as Matt Kemp and others could be dealt soon as well. It was a big mistake for the Padres to sign Shields to a 4-year/$75 million contract in the first place, but this is a good trade because they at least get something valuable for him. Erik Johnson has some major league experience with the White Sox, yet he has been sent down to the minor leagues regularly because he hasn’t proven anything at the MLB level. Johnson is only 26 years old, so there still is some potential left in him and a change of scenery could really help him. He will likely fill Shields’ spot in the Padres rotation in the short-term, but Johnson is nothing more than a 5th starter at best. I see Johnson as a better fit in the bullpen at some point, but for now he provides some rotational depth until the Padres can rebuild. Johnson is 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA this season, so anything that the Padres can get from him this season will be good. Meanwhile, the real gem in this trade for San Diego is shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. who is only 17 years old. Tatis was just signed last year by the White Sox as an international free agent and he will likely be a long-term project for San Diego. Tatis has started to really hit well, but he doesn’t project to have much power if he reaches the MLB level. There has been thought that Tatis could move to 3rd base at some point, but he is a decent defensive shortstop. Tatis has a lot of work to do before he can reach the major league level and he is a risky prospect since he is so young and raw, but this isn’t a bad trade for the Padres since they aren’t in a position to compete this season.
White Sox evaluation:
The White Sox rotation wasn’t that bad already, but adding James Shields as a back of the rotation pitcher makes the team’s pitching staff even better. Shields is 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA so far this season, so don’t expect those stats to improve that much with the White Sox. Shields will never impress anyone with his ERA as he only has a 3.76 career ERA, but he has thrown at least 200 innings in every since except for his rookie season in 2016. Shields provides some much needed depth and consistency to the White Sox rotation which is what makes this move really good. He will improve Chicago’s pitching staff even more because they already have a pretty good offense. If Shields can be the pitcher that he was even a year ago then this trade could be a big pickup for the White Sox. Also, the White Sox didn’t give up much to get Shields anyway. Erik Johnson made some impact at the MLB level the past few years, but the team had no use for him in the rotation and he probably would spend most of his time in Triple-A anyway. Tatis Jr. was a good international signing for the White Sox. Sure, he has some potential especially as a hitter, but he is still rather raw and the White Sox can’t wait several years for him to be MLB ready. Chicago is getting a really quality starter with James Shields and they only gave up players that didn’t have a future role with the team anyway.