The Angels spent handsomely Thursday to secure one of their bullpen anchors, signing setup man Scot Shields to a four-year contract worth $18 million.
Shields could have filed for free agency after next season and signed as a closer elsewhere. By staying in Anaheim, he agreed to stay in the eighth inning, ahead of closer Francisco Rodriguez.
“I will be Frankie’s setup man the rest of his career,” Shields said. “I hope that happens.”
When the Angels signed Shields and Rodriguez to one-year contracts in January, General Manager Bill Stoneman said he would remain interested in long-term deals with both. Rodriguez, 25, who led the American League in saves in each of the past two years, is eligible for free agency after next season.
The Angels “haven’t said anything to me” about a long-term deal since January, Rodriguez said Thursday. Stoneman said he would not comment on negotiations, except to reiterate he still is open to discussing a new deal with Rodriguez.
In Shields and Justin Speier, the Angels have two setup men -- and potential closers -- signed through 2010, for $18 million each.
“Everyone’s dream is to have a multiyear contract,” Rodriguez said. “You want to secure your family. If it’s not going to be this ballclub, it’s going to be another ballclub.”
Are the Angels his first choice?
“Hard to say,” he said. “This is a business. One day you could be here, the next day you could not.”
Shields’ contract protects him should he become a closer, in Anaheim or elsewhere. He’ll make $3.4 million this year, $4.25 million next year, $5 million in 2009 and $5.35 million in 2010.
The deal also includes significant incentives for games finished -- up to $800,000 next year, $1.5 million in 2009 and $2 million in 2010. Those incentives reflect the concerns of Shields’ representatives, Stoneman said, not any organizational concern about the potential departure of Rodriguez.