Oct 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields warms up in the bullpen before game one of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Likely, this is as opinionated as anyone could be, and is always going to come down to the preference of each specific general manager. With that being said, here is what you would be getting.
A team is paying roughly $5 million more for a player in Shields, that is virtually the same age and has the same amount of wear as Santana. He is slightly better when it comes to giving up runs, and he walks a few less batters. Shields strikes out more batters by a small amount, and he eats quite a few more innings up over the course of a few years.
One knock against Shields has been that he is not the “Big Game” pitcher he has been dubbed as he struggles in the postseason. Realistically though, both pitchers have ERA’s that are north of 5.00 (despite Santana’s last trip coming in 2009).
What you have to ask yourself is whether or not $5 million is worth a slight gain, and whether or not it hamstrings your club going forward. For the Twins, pitching prospects is something they have an abundance of, and one guy may not be the only piece needed to reach the next level. With the way in which Terry Ryan constructed his rotation for 2015, it’s hard to poke any holes at the Twins decision over one pitcher or another.
At the end of the day, James Shields is going to pitch well in San Diego, and the expectation should be the same of Ervin Santana in Minnesota. Twins fans, enjoy the flashy signing the club made this offseason, and know it was the right one for now.