As the price for James Shields drops, an increasing number of clubs are renewing their interest in him.
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of those clubs, according to major-league sources.
While the Jays are not actively negotiating with Shields’ agent, Page Odle, they are again discussing the pitcher internally, trying to determine a price at which they would be comfortable signing him, sources said.
The team also is doing additional background on Shields, "digging" for information in the words of one rival executive.
Two weeks ago, a number of executives told FOX Sports they expected Shields to land a contract of at least five years, $100 million. Two execs said it was their understanding that Shields had a five-year, $110 million offer.
Shields, 33, either never received such a proposal or did not want to sign with the team that offered it. Some execs now believe he is headed for a four-year deal, perhaps in the $70 million-$80 million range.
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart recently confirmed that the D-backs were in the mix for Shields. The Detroit Tigers have had recent contact with Shields’ agent, Page Odle, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.
Shields represents an obvious fit for the Jays, who lack a No. 1 starter in a rotation that includes right-hander R.A. Dickey, lefty Mark Buehrle and righties Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman.
The addition of another starting pitcher would enable the Jays to use right-hander Aaron Sanchez out of the bullpen, perhaps even as a closer.
To sign Shields, the Jays likely would need to backload his contract the way they did with free-agent catcher Russell Martin, who will earn just $7 million in the first year of his five-year, $82 million deal.
Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston told Sportsnet 590 The Fan at the end of last season that he expected the team to spend at least $135 million to $137 million on its roster in 2015.
The Jays currently are at about $130 million, based upon contract information from Cot’s Baseball Contracts and numbers exchanged with their two remaining arbitration-eligible players, third basemen Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia.
Barring late ownership approval of a payroll increase, the team has $6 million to $7 million left to spend, sources said. Some of that money likely is earmarked for additions to the bullpen.