There is no questioning that Chris Sale (9-2, 2.54 ERA) has been an absolutely dominant force in 2016 for the Chicago White Sox. However, outside of Sale and Jose Quintana (5-5, 2.13 ERA), the remainder of the White Sox pitching staff has been far from impressive following the club’s hot start to the season, as the Chi-Sox are currently in the midst of a downward tailspin, winning just five of their last 21 games. Along with a major lack of run support, the White Sox slump can be mainly accredited to their third, fourth, and fifth starters getting absolutely lit up on a daily basis. Mat Latos (6-1, 4.02 ERA) and Carlos Rodon (2-5, 4.41 ERA) have had their fair share of solid performances (Latos more than Rodon), but for the most part, neither has been a reliable piece to the back end of Chicago’s rotation. The White Sox needed to address this issue and they needed to address it quickly in order to get themselves out of this hole they’ve dug themselves into and get back into first place in the AL-Central. On Saturday, GM Kenny Williams did just that, as Chicago acquired veteran right-hander James Shields from the San Diego Padres in exchange for starter Erik Johnson and minor leaguer Fernando Tatis Jr.
Welcome to Chicago, James Shields! pic.twitter.com/FDCnUtCdwl
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 4, 2016
According to ESPN, the Padres will eat a significant portion of the remaining $58 million owed on Shields’ four-year, $75 million deal that he signed in February of 2015. The White Sox are expected to pay between $27 million and $31 million of Shields’ remaining salary, according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden.
Now, normally a 34-year-old pitcher in the regressing state of their career like James Shields (2-7, 4.28 ERA), is not the ideal acquisition for a club trying to fight off their pitching woes and make a comeback in the standings after a free fall. But, it’s not like the White Sox really have any other options when it comes to making moves for pitchers on the free agency front, and not many other teams are willing to give up on the season and deal away their best pitcher in the beginning of June (San Diego is currently 22-34 and at the bottom of the NL West, very bad team).
Many of the fans in the Windy City and around Major League Baseball may also question why the White Sox would target a guy like James Shields, who was just recently called out by his ex-team’s owner, Ron Fowler, for a bad outing (10 earned runs in 2 and two-thirds innings against Seattle). Maybe, things will work out for James Shields in Chicago. Maybe they won’t. But, James Shields now has some nice motivation to show his former club and boss that he is not an “embarrassment.” But rather, he is a pitcher who has gone through some tough times since leaving Tampa Bay in 2012 and still has some gas left in the tank. Look for James Shields’ future performances in Chi-Town to be pretty intense and for him to be highly motivated with every delivery to the plate after this little call-out by Ron Fowler.