Many out there are speculating that the Rays may trade away "Big Game James" if the haul is big enough, and even though we all love Shields here, who wouldn't take a package of prospects that included, say, Yonder Alonso, or one of the two Blue Jays catchers, along with some B/C prospects? Shields projects to be a great value going forward, and not in the Wal-Mart sense: he's having a career year, he's turning 30, and with three more years very reasonably priced, he looks to be a great catch for any contending team.
We cannot forget to emphasize the operative words here - "team friendly" - that are typically used to describe Shields' contract. While I am sure James intended no charity to the Rays ownership when the contract was inked, the fact is that (at least to me) there is an implicit understanding between the player and the club that he would not be traded, at least not without his consent, and especially not when the team is generally playing quite well. It would be one thing if the Rays were having a sub-500 season for the second year in a row; in reality, the Rays are enjoying another decent season following a decent season in 2010. No doubt Shields has been a large part of it.
Anyway what I am getting at is that other players - Matt Joyce, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Desmond Jennings - may be much more apprehensive about signing a "team friendly" deal with a team that is not so player friendly. I guess I am trying to say, "If you are going to pay the player less than he deserves for many years, at least don't use that as a bargaining chip in trading him to other teams." The argument can of course be made that Shields knew a trade was a possibility, if not a probability, when he signed it. However, considering how well the Rays have been doing and what a contributor Shields has been, it seems very - how can I say it - disingenuous - to think of using what was essentially a favor to the Rays to enhance their position in trades. I cannot imagine that Shields likes the fact that he is being potentially being traded simply because he was "duped" or whatnot into signing such a deal.
In the end it is all economics and perhaps trading Shields, or Zobrist, or even Longoria for that matter, won't make a difference. I would think from a common sense perspective that it would in that young players in the future may be less trusting, and therefore less willing, to sign a deal with the Rays. In the end that could cost us a lot more than 10 wins. Without these team friendly deals (especially Longoria, Zobrist, Shields) where would we be?
Oh, and in the DRaysBay tradition, if you believe there are costs to trading away a player on a team friendly deal, how on Earth do you go about quantifying those? I would assume its something like Trade value - Potential savings value.