Padres trade Shields, cash to White Sox for Johnson, Tatis
SAN DIEGO (AP) The San Diego Padres traded pitcher James Shields and cash to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, capping one of the more miserable weeks in the history of a franchise that just can't seem to get out of its own way.
The deal came three days after Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler criticized the last-place team's recent performances as being ''embarrassing'' and ''pathetic,'' and called out Shields for his poor start Tuesday at Seattle.
Shields was the last piece of general manager A.J. Preller's spending spree before the 2015 season, signing a $75 million, four-year deal, the biggest free agent contract in club history.
The Padres will cover $29 million of the $56 million remaining on Shields' contract. San Diego receives pitcher Erik Johnson, who could take Shields' spot in the rotation, and 17-year-old shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., son of the former big league infielder.
''The biggest thing as we look at this is, we haven't been good enough the last year and a half, as a group, as a team, as an organization,'' Preller said. ''When we went to last offseason, and we made the moves we made, we felt like we had some talent in the room that we wanted to build around and take a chance.''
''It wasn't necessarily that we were going into it hey, this is all-in on this one-year period. I think it was more of, hey, let's see if we can take a shot and compete and contend, knowing that if it didn't work out at a point down the road, we have the ability to pump the brakes and go in a different direction, and we were going to have some assets that were going to be attractive to some other clubs,'' he said.
Preller's roster overhaul, which cost the franchise talented young players such as Joe Ross, Trea Turner and Matt Wisler, fizzled. The Padres finished three games worse last year than they did in 2014. They're headed for their sixth straight losing season and the 10th year out of the playoffs.
The Padres had a historically inept start, becoming the first major league team to be shut out in its first three games, and setting the big league record with 30 straight shutout innings to open a season.
On Thursday night, they blew a 10-run lead by letting Seattle score 14 runs in two innings to take a 16-13 win. It was Seattle's biggest comeback and San Diego's biggest collapse.
Shields was gone Saturday before the clubhouse opened to reporters.
But on Friday, he was still feeling the sting of Fowler's criticism.
''I never expected to get singled out. I definitely don't think it's the right move,'' said Shields, who helped pitch the Rays into the 2008 World Series and the Royals into the 2014 Series. ''But I can't control what other people say about me. I can only control what I do and what I've done in my career.''
''I went to Tampa, I built a culture over there. I helped build the culture in Kansas City, a winning culture. So I'll let my reputation speak for itself. I've just got to keep moving forward and pitch,'' he said.
Shields, a 34-year-old righty, is 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA. He allowed 10 runs in 2 2-3 innings in a 16-4 loss at Seattle on Tuesday.
Veterans Matt Kemp and Derek Norris, both acquired during Preller's big roster revamp in December 2014, said they're not quite sure what direction the front office is headed.
But Kemp said it ''definitely would be tough'' to be part of a rebuilding process.
''I definitely want to win. I'm used to winning,'' he said. ''I think everybody in this clubhouse wants to win. It's just how we go about it and how we get the job done. We have guys in here that are capable of getting it done. We just haven't been doing it. I think everybody in this clubhouse is very frustrated how the season has gone but we've got to get it going and right now's the time.''
Norris had already moved into the primo locker Shields vacated hours earlier.
The catcher deflected several questions about the direction the Padres are heading.
''They don't pay me to speak on that,'' Norris said. ''Whatever they're doing, I'm sure in their minds, is in the best interest of the ballclub going forward.''
The White Sox got off to a fast start this year, but have recently slid back in the AL Central. They've been looking to boost their rotation and hope and think ''Big Game James'' can deliver.
Shields has made at least 31 starts every season beginning in 2007.
''I think he's been in some big games and big situations and you're hoping for some of that he can bring here,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ''There's also the mentality of knowing that he can go deep in games and eat some innings for you. Guy's been doing it for a while.''
Prone to giving up home run balls, Shields has kept his teams in games for years, going a combined 129-104 with a 3.76 ERA overall for Tampa Bay, Kansas City and the Padres.
Johnson, a 26-year-old righty, was 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA for the White Sox this season.