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The Rays Tank: James Shields signing day is here!

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Rays West

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After much speculation last week that James Shields would indeed return home -- to his original home of San Diego --the deal appeals to be done. SB Nation's Chris Cotillo reported late last night that he'd chosen the Padres.

Shields was expected to sign with the Padres as recently as last Thursday, but a flurry of last minute phone calls and bidding attempts delayed his decision to the weekend. According to Cotillo, the deal is expected to be four years guaranteed at $18-19 million AAV, with a club option for a fifth season.

It will be interesting to hear what contracts might have been offered elsewhere in the coming weeks. With neutral offers and neutral weather, a competitive offer from teams with reputations for cultivating young talent that could have surrounded Shields (Maddon's Cubs, Cardinals), or an opportunity to pull ahead in a weak division (AL Central) could have been more win-now focused moves, at least for our vantage point.

I believe Shields had three priorities, however, and not in any particular order that was to 1) compete for a title, 2) with a competitive contract, and 3) somewhere on the west coast. As far as we know, the Angels and Giants dropped out of the bidding for Shields earlier than this weekend, but that didn't count out Friedman's Dodgers -- and yet here we are.

Did he simply take the best contract? The best location? The best ballpark?

The Padres clearly wanted Shields, forgoing the 13th overall draft choice to sign him, and committing more to this one pitcher over the next four years than their opening day payroll had been in every season of franchise history, save 2014. The difference in adding Shields certainly edges the Padres in front of the Giants in the division, but it remains to be seen if this team can overcome the powerhouse Dodgers.

Shields will now be anchoring a staff that contains a slew of promising pitchers in (Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross) and three more recovering from injury (Josh Johnson, Cory Luebke, Brandon Morrow). Add in Odrisamer Despaigne, who started sixteen games for the Friars last season, and you have eight reasonable options for the rotations.

Best of luck in your home town, Juego G, and may that yakety sax outfield treat you kindly in your new cavernous ballpark.

Links

- Grant Balfour is set to be voted into Australia's baseball Hall of Fame, and his award has been fast tracked so his dad may be a part of the ceremony, due to a terminal battle with cancer.

- New manager Kevin Cash is promising more line up stability next season, according to Marc Topkin, rarely shifting guys more than one notch up or down in the line up.

"We've talked a lot about it with the front office, and they think the same way, too," Cash said. "Maybe it's a little different than what's gone on in the past, but that's our thought, that we're going to roll with this and we'll see if we can provide some stability and get some guys comfortable when they come to the ballpark, they know they're hitting in this slot, and see how that shakes out for a while."

- FOX and MLB are in talks that could result in nearly 40% of all streamed game broadcasts being Blackout Free

- The prospect staff at Baseball Prospectus ranked their Top 101 for 2015, including only two RaysNo. 66 Daniel Robertson, and No. 94 Willy Adames.

- The Toronto Blue Jays are paying $600,000 for the University of Guelph to conduct a year-long feasibility study into the prospects of growing turfgrass under the dome of the Rogers Centre. The Jays would also like the All-Star game to come across the border.

- Mike Petriello: James Shields can't solve the biggest Padres problem (hint: it's the infield - however, additions of a healthy Yonder Alonso and Will "don't give me chicken-pox" Middlebrooks could change that).

- Jeff Sullivan wonders what Coors Field does to pitch selection.

- Last week, Jonah Keri ranked the worst contracts in baseball, including plenty of Rangers, Yankees, and former Rays players.

- R.J. Anderson has an entertaining puzzle, free today on Baseball Prospectus, and it involves dissecting the match up of Jordan Zimmermann and Christian Yelich. Their most recent meeting produced one of the best highlight reels of 2015 for new Rays prospect Steven Souza Jr:

...but the previous 17 meetings, and Zimmermann's attempts to get the best of Yelich, are an interesting read. Play the game, share your answers below (no cheating), and let's see how close you get.

- Finally, in case you missed it, yesterday was DRaysBay's 10th Birthday, which we celebrated with a look back at the birth of the site as part of SB Nation's Original Six, and featured some well wishes from former managers and site luminaries. Scott followed with a look back at Baseball America's Top 10 prospects for 2005, and I highlighted the ten most popular articles in site history.