The Chicago White Sox Are Contenders After The James Shields’ Trade

Are the Chicago White Sox contenders?

That is one of the questions being asked after the White Sox traded for San Diego Padres’ pitcher James Shields. The other question will be brought up later. What is known is that the White Sox identified a player that they wanted, and went out and got him.

The San Diego Union Tribune first reported that the Padres were sending James Shields to the White Sox. The White Sox sent pitcher Erik Johnson and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. in the deal. The White Sox will also receive cash, which will cover at least half of the $58 million remaining on James Shields’ contract.

Adding James Shields makes the White Sox playoff contenders.

Shields instantly provides the White Sox a strong No. 3 pitcher in their rotation. He is a perfect choice to pitch behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Chris Sale is a top-3 Major League pitcher. He is the ace on every team in baseball except for the Los Angeles Dodgers where they have Clayton Kershaw and the Washington Nationals with Max Scherzer. Jose Quintana is the White Sox No. 2 pitcher, but he is an ace on two-thirds of the teams in the league. Insert James Shields into the equation, then the former Padres’ 2015 opening day starter.

Chris Sale praised the James Shields’ trade upon finding out the news.

“You have to have a lot of respect for him. It’s not easy. You don’t just roll out of bed and throw 200 innings. For him, it seems like it’s that way. You know, it just takes stress off everybody else. It takes stress off the next starting pitcher. It takes stress off the bullpen, and he’s going to give us some quality innings as well. He’s still got a lot left in the tank, so we’re looking forward to that. Like I said, hopefully that’s the spark we need.”

As a No. 3 starter, the James Shields trade allows every other White Sox pitcher to be slotted down a notch.

Carlos Rodon has the potential to lead a pitching staff at some point in the future. Rodon makes an excellent fourth starter. James Shields’ trade makes Rodon better, if for no other reason than it lessening the pressure he now faces. If Carlos Rodon continues to struggle, White Sox manager Robin Ventura can send him to the bullpen as a long relief pitcher. There are options with Rodon.

Mat Latos and Miguel Gonzalez will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. Competition is a good thing for the White Sox. Fans should expect the best.

As far as the bullpen goes, the James Shields trade may help them.

What the White Sox received from the Padres is an innings-eater, who should rack quality starts as long as he does not give up a ton of home runs. Getting to the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning will right the ship for a reliever’s group that had struggled in the month of May.

Ideally, the White Sox want to have a bridge to closer David Robertson. Getting back to their winning ways will accomplish that. Currently, the White Sox are only two games behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central, with a 29-27 record. Neither team in the division is running away from the pack. Keep in mind that the White Sox had a six-game lead over the Indians in May.

When comparing their starting rotation to their division rivals, the White Sox may have a slight edge with James Shields joining Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The Chicago White Sox still have some work to do. In the meantime, pitching is why the Chicago White Sox are playoff contenders. The pitching staff now is one of the best in the American League.

Now that James Shields is in the fold, what else does the Chicago White Sox need?

The White Sox need a left-handed power bat in the lineup. They also need one more relief pitcher.

If first baseman Jose Abreu was having a better season at the plate, the White Sox would probably still be atop of the Central Division. Even if Abreu starts hitting, the White Sox need a hitter. It was reported by ESPN a month ago that the White Sox have interest in Cincinnatti’s Jay Bruce, among others. Not sending shortstop Tim Anderson or pitcher Carson Fullmer to the Padres in the James Shields’ trade gives the White Sox a couple of prospects that can be moved for a hitter.

As for a relief pitcher, there will be opportunities to get bullpen help at some point without giving up a prospect of significance.

The Chicago White Sox singled out on a pitcher and got him. The James Shields’ trade is a move that puts them back into contention after a horrible month of May.

[Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images]