James Shields Twins: Fantasy Implications of Rumored Trade

We all know that the Minnesota Twins need starting pitching, so it’s no surprise that recent rumors have suggested that the Minnesota Twins are in the market to trade for some.

Darren Wolfson of 1500espn.com suggested that they were interested in Ervin Santana. Now that Santana’s been moved to Kansas City, the Twins have shifted their focus.

Another name to monitor: Tampa Bay’s James Shields. While having his $10.25 million option exercised for 2013, he’s available. The Twins seem like a good match with the Rays because of their outfield depth. Tampa Bay is expected to lose outfielder B.J. Upton, who’s a free agent.

Before I get going too deep in analyzing this trade, I have one question.

Who in the world calls Denard Span, Josh Willingham and Ben Revere outfield depth?!?

Oh I see, Darin Mastroianni really does round THAT group out. But now that that’s out of my system, let’s look at the possibility of Shields ending up in the Twin cities, and what the fantasy baseball implications might be.

First I would have to guess that Span would be the outfielder on the move for a couple reasons:

1. He is a quality player and solid lead off man, that would fit nicely in Tampa Bay’s outfield and line-up, especially if they do in fact lose B.J. Upton. Take a look at the kind of lineup they’d be fielding.

  1. Denard Span
  2. Desmond Jennings
  3. Ben Zobrist
  4. Evan Longoria
  5. Matthew Joyce
  6. Brandon Guyer
  7. Sean Rodriguez
  8. Stephen Vogt
  9. Jose Molina

Yes, I think you move Jennings back to the 2 hole and make room for Span to set the table. The guy can make an at-bat last a long time, has a much higher batting average (Span is a career .284 hitter, Jennings is a .246 career hitter) and consequently on base percentage (Span .357, Jennings .327) and he still has good speed on the base paths, nabbing 17 bases in 2012.

Again, when you consider that Upton’s likely gone, this is a fantasy improvement for the Rays. More importantly for this site, it’s an improvement for anyone who owns Denard Span in 2013, as he’ll be better in Tampa than Minnesota.

Now, let’s shift to the Twins side of the coin, shall we? The Royals taking Ervin Santana might just become a blessing in disguise. James Shields is a better pitcher and the Twins “outfield depth” wouldn’t help the Angels, who are already over-crowded. Span would be especially useless in Anaheim, as he would need to be inserted into a line up right away and the Angels don’t have that room right now. Plus, being in the same division, the Twins get to face Ervin a few more times a season to make it a little more interesting.

Shields came back down to earth last season posting a 3.52 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP after a stellar 2011 where he posted a 2.82 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Still, a 3.52 ERA in the American League East is nothing to sneeze at. He has really revived his career the past few seasons and striking out nearly a hitter an inning. Shields can be a solid number one starter for the Twins for a few seasons while they start to work in some of their young arms, such as Kyle Gibson.

From a fantasy angle, this would give help Shields put up slightly better numbers than last year (except maybe in wins). Granted, his numbers will most likely never be as good as 2011 ever again. Still, Minnesota is about as pitcher-friendly as any park in the league, certainly when compared to Tropicana Field and the parks of the A.L. East.

Overall it seems this trade could work out for everyone involved. Most importantly, it would help fantasy owners most of all.

Tags: Denard Span James Shields Rays Twins

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