Ever since the MLB Winter Meetings earlier this month when Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with free agent starting pitcher James Shields' agent, the public word from Daniels and the Rangers has been that the talk was nothing more than due diligence with no real substance to them.
The thought all along was that the Rangers weren't in a financial position this winter to get in the Shields sweepstakes and the more than $100 million price tag that will ultimately come with him. But the thought was also that the Rangers would add a cheaper starting pitcher, possibly two. All they have done so far is add Ross Detwiler, a starter-turned-reliever from the Nationals who wants to be a starter again.
While Daniels said the Rangers would never get in the mix for the winter's top two pitching free agents, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, the same was never said regarding Shields.
Now, it's being reported by ESPN's Jim Bowden, the former Nationals GM, that the Rangers are quietly still very much in the Shields mix after it appears the San Francisco Giants' interest has cooled after they were initially seen as a favorite to land Shields.
Shields, of course, helped lead the Royals to the AL pennant this past season and is a huge innings eater — possibly the biggest innings eater in baseball. He's eclipsed 200 innings in every full season of his career and his last eight seasons. That's some reason for concern, as his arm has logged a lot of mileage on it, but it would give the Rangers a proven veteran starter they're seeking.
It still seems unlikely the Rangers will go that route, as they don't seem to want to commit another nine-figure contract, but time will tell.