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Tigers keeping tabs on James Shields
Now that former Tiger Max Scherzer is no longer the star of free agent show, ex-Royal James Shields is. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted Friday that Scherzer’s most recent employer is at least kicking the tires on Shields to take over his vacated rotation spot.

We learned about a week ago that one member of the Tigers front office believed re-signing Scherzer is imperative, because of the question marks surrounding Detroit’s current and future rotation, which is closely tied to its window of competition. Among those question marks are the post-2015 plans of David Price, who has one year left before he can test free agency in what’s shaping up to be a loaded pitching class. Morosi pointed out that Shields is a close friend of the southpaw with whom he shared a clubhouse in Tampa Bay, so there is a chance—albeit small—that adding Shields now could help the Tigers in their bid to re-up with Price next winter.

More salient at the moment, though, is Detroit’s trust level in imported back-end starters Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon, and in the health of Anibal Sanchez, who’s in the no. 3 slot behind Price and Justin Verlander. After shipping Drew Smyly to Tampa to acquire Price at the deadline and moving Rick Porcello to Boston for Yoenis Cespedes, the Tigers don’t have many proven backup plans if any of the incumbent rotation arms falter or miss significant time. Greene exceeded expectations in his rookie year with the Yankees and Simon told his peripherals to take a hike in a 3.44 ERA showing with the Reds, but neither boasts an extended résumé of success in a major-league rotation.

Shields’ track record of durability and of chewing up innings could tempt general manager Dave Dombrowski, particularly in light of the perennial doubts about the back end of his bullpen. A pitcher who’s logged at least 227 innings in four consecutive years is either the epitome of durability or due for a long DL stint, depending on the fullness of your glass, but it’s a feather in Shields’ cap that agent Page Odle will surely bring up in talks.

The current price tag for the 33-year-old Shields is unknown, though there were indications last week that it has dipped well below $100 million. Morosi’s fellow FOX Sports insider Ken Rosenthal inferred that based on the Diamondbacks’ reported entry into the fray. If it’s true, then Shields would cost the Tigers considerably less than Scherzer would have. They’d take a modest hit in draft order, surrendering their first-round pick while gaining only a sandwich-round selection for the loss of Scherzer, but that’s likely an afterthought for a club in win-now mode.

Morosi followed up his initial tweet with this caveat:

Whether serious or not, it might speed up what’s been a glacially paced race to ink a pair of pitchers who were expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Scherzer is off the board.

Rockies shopping Charlie Blackmon
Saturday brought more news from the tireless FOX Sports tag team of Morosi and Rosenthal, this time from Denver, where the Rockies are gauging interest in an All-Star outfielder with an eye on improving their pitching staff. It’s seldom a bad idea to cash in on a player whose performance outstripped his preseason stock, and Charlie Blackmon, who bookended an otherwise-unspectacular year with a tremendous April and September, fits the sell-high mold. The question, sources told Morosi and Rosenthal, is whether new GM Jeff Bridich can sell high enough.

Pitching, as usual, is on the grocery list in Colorado, and it’ll likely take a nice arm to pry Blackmon, a 28-year-old whose service-time clock stands at 2.102, a year away from arbitration and four years shy of free agency.

The plan, according to the FOX Sports report, is to move Blackmon for pitching, and then replace him with a free-agent outfielder. Of course, that market has thinned—most recently with the Giants’ signing of Norichika Aoki—and Colby Rasmus, a fellow lefty swinger, might be the only option with the offensive upside to supplant Blackmon's 2014 production. Hence, a deal exporting Blackmon might have to come together soon, so that Bridich can strike quickly on the former Blue Jay, who’s previously drawn interest from the Orioles and Rays.

As Morosi and Rosenthal pointed out, one possibility here is moving Blackmon to Baltimore to knock the Orioles out of the Rasmus bidding. The Braves and Rangers, based on their searches for outfield help, were the other possible destinations mentioned in the report.

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garciamckinley
1/19
When you say Corey Dickerson, you mean Charlie Blackmon.
nteagle
1/19
That's what I got as well. All of the Cleat Chasers here on the Front Range are in up-roar over Blackmon's Name being mentioned as a trade possibility.
Would be STUPID to deal Dickerson,imo, since he only has ONE Year of Service Time. But, this IS the Rockies...
bigchiefbc
1/19
Blackmon and Dickerson both have about a .300 difference in home and away OPS, so all things being equal, you'd think they'd rather keep Dickerson because of how many more years of control he has left.
garciamckinley
1/19
My initial comment was literal--the linked article is about Charlie Blackmon, not Corey Dickerson. There haven't been any reports of the Rockies offering Dickerson as a trade piece, to my knowledge.
statsrath
1/19
Whoops, major brain-lock there. Fixed the references to Dickerson—and to clarify, the report was indeed about Blackmon, with no mention of Dickerson currently being on the trade block.
nteagle
1/19
SMH
DetroitDale
1/19
Well, it's official, Mad Max is gone. I'd been preparing for this all year but it still stings. I hate to not have his presence in the rotation but that contract would have been scary, particularly if it meant paying luxury tax on a team already losing money and likely to lose more as the Detroit economy takes its toll.

Washington now boasts a Rotation of (in no particular order) Scherzer, Strasberg, Fister and Gio Gonzales?? Even if they don't keep Zimmerman that's gotta be the new best rotation in the league. I'd be tempted to call them the favorites for the World Series, but considering the previous two super rotation, the Phillies and Tigers, never got a ring, I'm rethinking my whole theory about the game goes to the best rotation.

On another note, Max was racking up ridiculous strikeout totals facing full lineups, can you imagine what he'll do now that he gets to face a pitcher every three innings? Watch out Clayton, you got competition for the NL Cy Young now.

I don't know what to think about the pursuit of Big Game James. Could be it was just a rumor to try to get back the leverage that lone wolf leaker destroyed. (in all my years following this team I've NEVER seen anything like that) or it could be Shields' agent trying to drum up interest. If it's legit I don't know what to think. Sure it's less years and less money, but it's for an older less talented pitcher, though still an ace and better than running Simon out there every fifth day. Then again, he's 3-4 years older so a 3 year contract would be almost as risky as the 7 year deal with Scherzer, and there's now ay he settles for three years.

The sad part for me is, the window has gone from wide open to cracked for air, and this time next year, when we do this same story about David Price, it closes.
AmericanMagpie
1/19
What about Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers?

http://espn.go.com/dallas/mlb/story/_/id/12190057/texas-rangers-close-acquiring-yovani-gallardo
swarmee
1/20
There is an article now; they were probably waiting for it to finalize before publishing.