The two biggest items of February baseball business are finally on a course to resolution.
The first: James Shields has multiple offers in hand and is expected to sign before the end of the week, according to Jon Morosi. While Morosi can't confirm teams with certainty, he's led to believe the Padres and Yankees are involved, and both make sense as destinations (Bob Nightengale added the Cardinals to that list).
The White Sox don't appear to be one of those teams. After serving dinner with other White Sox representatives at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Chicago on Tuesday, Rick Hahn said he figures the roster is more or less set for the start of spring training, after which things may shake loose:
There are still a few names out there," Hahn said after he served dinner along with Ron Kittle and 20 other White Sox employees to 50 families at the Ronald McDonald House downtown. "Kenny and I talked about this the other day. There’s always one more move in your mind that you would like to make. ... Despite what we’ve accomplished, there’s no exception to that mindset right now. [...]
"We are still kicking the tires on a few smaller things," Hahn said. "But I wouldn’t anticipate there being any alterations between now and the start of camp. We’ve entered that window right now where things tend to be a little quieter. Teams are preparing to get to spring training, as opposed to looking outside their rosters.
"Things will pick up again once we get to camp."
Shields' name popped up here in a thread and a FanPost, but that idea is a Rubik's cube that doesn't snap together on all sides, and for a couple reasons:
No. 1: If the plan for signing Shields includes trading John Danks to make room on the payroll ... why wouldn't the team trading for Danks just sign Shields?
No. 2: If the Sox sign Shields, it'd make it far harder to consider an extension for Jeff Samardzija, since that'd be two megacontracts for over-30 pitchers while the salaries for Chris Sale and Jose Quintana tick upward. That's not to say signing Samardzija is smart proposition in its own right, but if the Sox like Samardzija better, they're better off seeing it through to the end, whatever it is.
The only way I could think it might work out:
Rick Hahn could tell Shields, "Sign for one year, and we'll name the street after you," and hope he doesn't notice.— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) February 4, 2015
I'm pulling for Shields to sign with the Padres, Cardinals or another National League club, since they're irrelevant to the White Sox's postseason chances. Joining the Yankees adds some congestion to the wild card picture, but it's a preferable alternative to landing with an AL Central team.
The other item: Yoan Moncada is free to sign with an MLB team, as the league finally decided to honor the "general license" from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, instead of requiring a "specific license" from OFAC that added up to six months in the waiting room.
The difference between the two -- the specific license is a written document, so the league is replacing it with affidavits that Baseball America's Ben Badler says are likely to ensure that the residency papers aren't fraudulent.
MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez says Moncada is expected to sign soon, which would seem to push big international spenders like the Cubs and Rangers out of contention, since they're already serving penalty time for exceeding the bonus limit. Instead, it looks like a showdown between teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox and Angels.
Regarding Hector Olivera, Badler says he is not yet free to sign like Moncada at the moment, but it should happen shortly since he meets the requirements for the general license.