James Shields, baseball's top remaining free agent, has reached a deal with the San Diego Padres, according to multiple sources.
SB Nation reported the deal is for four years and the team is expected to announce the agreement once the 33-year-old right-hander completes a physical. The deal is expected to be in the range of $72 million to $76 million, which would make it the richest payout in Padres history.
Shields is the latest addition to a new-look Padres team that has been aggressive this off-season under new General Manager A.J. Preller. In addition to Shields, considered one of the best pitchers available in free agency behind Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, the Padres have brought in Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Derek Norris.
Whether these moves will transform a Padres team that finished 17 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West last season into a division contender remains to be seen.
The Dodgers were among several teams interested in possibly signing Shields. They were looking to help bolster the middle of their starting rotation behind Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Shields, who grew up in Newhall just north of Los Angeles, was seen as a good fit for the team.
Though Shields' prolonged stay in the free-agent market indicated baseball general managers didn't feel he was worth a $100-million contract, he's still a strong pick-up for the Padres. He may not be the dominant pitcher he was in 2011 when he won 16 games for the Tampa Bay Rays, but he's a solid innings hog, notching more than 200 for each of the last eight seasons.
Shields posted a 14-8 record and a 3.21 earned-run average last season with the Kansas City Royals, helping them reach the World Series. In nine major league seasons, he has a 114-90 record and a 3.72 ERA.