James Shields is 106-85 with a 3.77 ERA in nine big league seasons. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays are one of MLB's surprise teams early this season, as they enter Friday's game at home against the Royals in first place in the AL East at 32-23 after having their nine-game winning streak snapped on Thursday.
There's been speculation that Toronto may try to trade for Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija to bolster their starting rotation. But the Blue Jays are reportedly more interested in "rental pitchers," rather than pitchers they'd have to invest top prospects in, and Kansas City's James Shields is one of those players, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com on Friday.
SI WIRE: Former MLB player Johnny Damon says he was 'booted' from baseball for being clean
Writes Heyman: "With rentals the expected preference, Royals star James Shields is seen as a possible Jays target should he hit the trade market. The Royals have been expecting to contend so there's no guarantee he'd be made available, and if he is the price would still be fairly high for such an ace pitcher who'd bring Kansas City a draft choice if they kept him once they made him a qualifying offer."
Still, the 32-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the season and he has experience pitching in the AL East, as he was 87-73 with a 3.89 ERA in seven seasons with the Rays before he was traded to Kansas City in December 2012.
Shields is 6-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 12 starts this year, but allowed six runs in seven innings against the Blue Jays on Thursday.
Toronto also could have interest in Cleveland's Justin Masterson, Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano and the Cubs' Jason Hammel, according to Heyman.
Samardzija, 29, who is 1-4 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts, is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
SI WIRE: Report: Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow has UCL tear, Tommy John surgery recommended