What if the Pirates shocked us all and signed James Shields?

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With James Shields still seeking a home for 2015 and beyond, numerous suitors that had fallen out of consideration have now re-emerged in the running for his services.

Among those with potential interest include the San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers and the San Diego Padres – among the usual suspects such as the Boston Red Sox. With his asking price reportedly falling of late (some reports indicate it’s as low as four years, $80 million) – dark horse candidates will no-doubt emerge.

Could the Pittsburgh Pirates make a run at Shields?

The team lost Edison Volquez this offseason, but re-signed left-hander Francisco Liriano and veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett to shore up the starting rotation. That being said, a clear-cut ace is something this team still lacks – at least until Gerrit Cole proves he can handle that role for a full big league season.

The Pirates are notorious for being tight with their money; the biggest free agent deal ever given by the organization came earlier this winter when the team gave Liriano three years and $39 million. So, needless to say, it’s more than a stretch to believe the team could or even would give twice that amount to bring Shields to the Steel City.

Regardless, the thought of the front office and ownership finally opening up the wallet and bringing in top-notch talent is enticing, to say the least.

Over the last eight seasons, Shields has pitched at least 200 innings, making at least 30 starts in each of those respective campaigns. Last season, he led the Kansas City Royals to an American League pennant before the team ran into the San Francisco Giants in the Fall Classic.

After Max Scherzer inked a seven-year, $210 million deal and Jon Lester joined the Chicago Cubs on a six-year, $155 million contract, big paydays are in high demand for starting pitchers. However, Shields could be forced to take a lesser deal due to the impending start of Spring Training.

Adding Shields, or even a pitcher of his caliber, would change the make-up of the Pirates for years to come. A rotation headlined by Shields, Cole and Liriano would be among the best in the National League – giving the Pirates a clear run at the National League Central in 2015 and beyond.

However, with ownership clinging to their pocketbooks and the largest free agent contract in franchise history already in tow this offseason, don’t count on a Shields-like deal anytime soon from the Pirates.

But hey, we can dream, right?

Next: Bill Mazeroski shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame

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