"Big Game James" is not joining the reigning World Champions, and neither is Max Scherzer -- at least as it appears now. ESPN's Jim Bowden reports that the San Francisco Giants are out of the running for costless agent starters James Shields and Max Scherzer. In fact, Bowden says that the Giants had not really intended on trying to sign Scherzer in the first place.
Giants are out on Shields, never in on Scherzer and still trying to work a deal on Zobrist according to sources— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) January 3, 2015
Shields and Scherzer are two of the top three costless agent pitchers according to CBS Sports.com with Scherzer holding the top ranking and Shields at #3. Both are still available and looking for big contracts. The pitching market seemed to hold of until Jon Lester (#2) signed his six-year, $155-million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Since Lester signed in early December, the bulk of the attention has turned to Shields and Scherzer.
As of January 3, the Giants have six pitchers competing for five spots in the starting rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy, Tim Lincecum, and Yusmeiro Petit. Bumgarner and Peavy are sure bets, but the rest of the seemingly talented rotation has question marks.
Cain (2-7, 4.18 ERA in 2014) is returning from elbow surgery that ended his season on July 11. Lincecum (12-9, 4.74) is not the pitcher he was a few years ago despite throwing his second career no-hitter, and he has started seeing time in the bullpen in the past few years. Hudson (9-13, 3.57) cruised most of the season until September (0-4, 8.72), and he had a little trouble in the postseason. Petit (5-5, 3.69) was far better as a reliever (2-1, 1.84) than as a starter (3-4, 5.03), and we will always remember his six-inning gem out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, which the Giants won 2-1 in 18 innings.
Still, Shields (14-8, 3.21 for the Kansas City Royals) and Scherzer (18-5, 3.15) may have priced themselves out of the Giants' bidding. Each is said to seek a contract even bigger than Lester's with Scherzer (whose agent is Scott Borus) reportedly seeking $200 million. MLB.com's Jason Beck announced on New Year's Eve that while the Detroit Tigers and Scherzer have not talked much recently, "none of the parties involved have ruled out a reunion."
Shields has many teams interested in his services, including teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and others who could afford a hefty contract.
We do not know how long it will take for the #1 and #3 pitchers to find their new teams, but it appears at this time that neither will end up in San Francisco. That status could possibly change, however, as we still have six weeks before Spring Training. Although cliche, "anything can happen" may still apply here.