2015 Boston Red Sox Armchair GM: Spend big or go home

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Oct 26, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher

James Shields

throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning during game five of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

1) Sign James Shields; 4 year contract/ $92 million, AAV of $23 mil. I have said all along Shields is the guy I want, and it all comes down to consistency. Over the last four seasons, his worst saw him go 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and 2.2 WAR – this came back in 2012. The other three saw Shields go no lower than 13 wins, a 3.21 ERA, and 3.3 WAR. Jon Lester seems to be the other popular candidate for the Red Sox to chase, but he will cost much more money. Over the same four years Jon Lester was much more inconsistent. His worst season, which coincidentally also came in 2012, (the year of the Red Sox collapse when they arguably needed him most) saw him go 9-14 with an atrocious 4.82 and .4 WAR. These numbers are unacceptable for an ace and came in his age 28 season, when the team expected his best. We can’t have another season like that from Lester if we are going to give him $23 million. His best season did outpace Shields’ own high watermark, but narrowly, and came this past year which just so happened to be his walk year… another coincidence? Lester’s other two seasons, he posted a 3.47 and 3.75 ERA, hardly the stats of an ace. I want Shields, but as with every player in this feature I will expose one flaw to my plan. Shields is not the stone cold playoff pitcher Lester is. But while concerning, this also helps the Red Sox. After a strong run to the postseason, there were murmurs that Shields had earned a fifth contract year, but with his playoff struggles, I think that it is possible he may have pitched his way back into the four year range. And the Red Sox will welcome him with open arms. Backup Plan: Overpay Jon Lester