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White Sox acquire James Shields

First big deal of the 2016 season aims to upgrade back-end of Chicago's starting rotation.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

First rumored a week ago, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox finalize a deal to bring James Shields to the South Side in exchange for Erik Johnson, Fernando Tatis Jr., and cash.

Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres were willing to "absorb a significant portion" of Shields remaining contract if he didn't opt-out after 2016. Instead of shortstop prospect, Tim Anderson being part of the deal, shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. is. Only 17 years old, Tatis Jr. was signed last year for $700,000 during the International Signing Period.

Shields is coming off the worst start of 2016 giving up 10 earned runs in just 2.2 IP, raising his ERA from 3.06 to 4.28. A big concern adding Shields is the ballpark factor pitching at U.S. Cellular Field. Always been prone to giving up the long ball, Shields allowed a league leading 33 home runs in 2015, and the fewest he's ever allowed is 18 during his rookie season in 2006.

What the White Sox are getting is a very durable pitcher who has started more 33-plus games eight straight seasons and the ability to consistently strike out hitters. Shields for his career K/9 rate is 7.8 and in 2016 is 7.6. Compare that to Mat Latos K/9 rate of 4.98, and that's an area where the team can help prevent more runs by limiting balls in play. When Shields is not giving up home run's, batters are hitting ground balls at a rate of 48% (Latos 44.1%).

Money owed to Shields was a large hurdle to getting a deal done. Still owed $63 million dollars on his deal, Shields does have an opt-out after the 2016 season. If he does not, Shields will be owed $21 million in 2017 and 2018. As part of the deal, San Diego agreed to eat part of the deal remaining, which is contingent if Shields does decide to stay in Chicago after the season. It'll be interesting to see what he does, as the upcoming free-agent pitching class is incredibly weak and Shields would be one of the best available.

Set to start tomorrow, Shields possible next start could be Tuesday, June 7th against the Washington Nationals.

UPDATE (3:55 PM CT):