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Just days after San Diego Padres owner Ron Fowler blasted James Shields on the radio, the club traded the righty to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Erik Johnson and young infielder Fernando Tatis, Jr., who signed as part of last year’s international free agent class.
Johnson, 26, is a former early draft pick and one-time highly regarded prospect who relies on a power breaking ball and has issued too many walks as he’s adjusted to the big league game. That profile is one general manager A.J. Preller has targeted several times already in his tenure, including recent acquisitions and current members of the rotation Drew Pomeranz and Christian Friedrich.
The Cal Berkeley product has walked 49 hitters in 98 innings of work in the majors in parts of the 2014, 2015 and current seasons, but his rates have been much better in the upper minors.
Tatis, who turned 17 in January, has name recognition both because his father is a former big leaguer and as one of the higher-profile members of his July 2 class last summer. The Dominican product has been playing third base in the White Sox extended spring training program, where he’s faced the Padres club a number of times over the last few months.
He now slots in to be one of an unusually large number of last year’s signing class who will potentially make their professional debuts for the Padres this year stateside, including shortstop Reinaldo Ilarraza, and pitchers Henry Henry, Starling Cordero, Emmanuel Clase and Andres Muñoz.
Shields has been a lightning rod for fans since signing a club-record four year, $75M contract prior to the 2015 season. While he threw 200 innings for the ninth consecutive year and posted a career-high strikeout rate, he also posted career worsts in home runs and walk rate in his first campaign with the club. With a back-loaded contract and coming off a brutal outing against Seattle, Shields was the focus of an on-air rant by Padres owner Ron Fowler on Wednesday morning.
While there had already been rumors of a trade, the fallout from Fowler's radio appearance appears to have forced the matter for Preller.