For the record, I think they’ll deal Upton but not deal Shields. Both are at the peak of their trade value but, I think the Rays see value in keeping Shields around for another run at the AL East next summer whereas they are ready to replace Upton with Desmond Jennings. I also suspect there is some clubhouse psychology to consider. BJ is a longtime Ray but Shields is the unquestioned “leader” of the pitching staff and a trade of Shields might be seen as a white flag inside the clubhouse.
Either way, both rumors are interesting because each player is reacting to the rumors in a unique way. First, based on my limited experience around trade deadline clubhouses, no player “doesn’t care” about being traded. Trade rumors remind every one of these guys that they are replaceable and that they are mercenaries. Every big leaguer wants to be a community icon, few ever are. The trade deadline seems to crystallize that shortcoming for a lot of these guys so they hate it.
Regardless, James Shields has responded to trade rumors by emphatically telling everyone with a tape recorder that he wants to play for the Rays for a long time. He told the St. Pete Times:
“I want to play here,” Shields said. “I want to be here. This has been my home for my whole career. I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you. I love this town. I want to be here. And I think we have a good team.”
B.J., on the other hand, tried to brush off the rumors by explaining that he is used to them while also reaffirming his allegiance to the club. He told the St. Pete Times:
“I grew up in the minor leagues with a lot of these guys,” Upton said. “I love being here, I love playing with them. I’m just hoping for the best.”
Both answers are similar. But I think it is interesting that Shields’ allegiance appears to be to the organization and the town, while BJ’s allegiance is to the guys he grew up playing with. I am no psychologist but, if I am the Rays, and one of these guys has to go, I pick Shields. Not because I think BJ’s statement is selfish or wrong. But thinking ahead, a guy that is loyal to the organization and the community, is more likely to sign a team-friendly extension to avoid free agency than a guy that is just loyal to the guys.
Or maybe, I am just reading too much into all of this.