And then there was one.
With Max Scherzer agreeing to a seven-year deal with the Nationals, James Shields is now the final remaining starting pitcher of significant quality available on the free-agent market. Sure, names such as Kyle Kendrick and Kevin Correia are out there, but those are players you patch into your rotation in July when a starter suffers a surprise elbow injury.
Shields is rightfully not sought after at the same level as Scherzer, but he's a top-of-the-rotation starter, and well-run teams aren't going to obsess about his lackluster playoff performance so far in his career. Over the past four seasons, Shields' 15.3 WAR, according to Baseball-reference.com, ranks him 13th in baseball over that span, and his 932⅔ innings is tops among all pitchers. In a neutral park over the next five seasons, the ZiPS projection system projects another 962⅓ innings and 15.1 WAR, suggesting a five-year, $100 million contract is perfectly reasonable. For win-now teams or teams expected to have win totals in the 80s, there's a strong case for paying more than that.
So where is Shields the best fit? This is not necessarily a list of teams that will go after Shields, but a list of teams that should be expressing interest.
The Tigers' "official" position is that they're not interested in Shields. This is a mistake. Scherzer was an important part of the team's success in recent seasons, and their winter pickups don't replace his performance.