Speaking on the Dennis and Callahan show Thursday morning, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington revealed that, while they engaged in conversations with Max Scherzer and James Shields, the team never made formal offers to either pitcher.
As far as Max Scherzer is concerned, it's not terribly surprising that the Red Sox never made an offer. Given that the Nationals eventually handed him a seven-year, $210 million deal, it shouldn't have taken more than a quick conversation for the Sox to realize they were not anywhere near his market. Chances are they knew it going in, too, and were just doing their due diligence.
With James Shields, however, the lack of a formal offer is more interesting. The Red Sox and Shields were seen by many as an obvious match after Jon Lester signed with the Cubs. Particularly as Shields' market slipped away--he eventually signed for just four years and $75 million with a team option to boot--he seemed a rare opportunity for the Red Sox to find a quality arm without going outside of their comfort zone price-wise.
Then again, given that Shields eventually did sign for so little, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Red Sox made no offer at all. It certainly makes more sense than them getting outbid by San Diego. Perhaps it was a matter of Shields' preferences. Fenway Park, after all, is not the best of locations to make the transition to the late stage of your career as a pitcher. The Red Sox may give him a better chance to win the World Series in the next four years, but after this past offseason, the Padres are no slouches themselves.
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On the other hand, maybe the Red Sox just weren't all that interested in betting on Shields making that late-stage transition. He was still great at 32, but at his age every year from this point on could easily be the one where it all comes falling down. Aside from a select few, pitchers just don't last all that long. And it would explain why all the Red Sox - Shields connections seemed to come from pundits focused on the financial fit rather than citing any clear expression of interest from the team.
Whatever their final bid, it's fair to say that the Red Sox failed in their pursuit of Jon Lester. They may not have wanted him at his full market price, but they were willing to pay quite a lot to bring him back to Boston. With James Shields, however, they don't seem to have lost so much as never having chased him in the first place. For whatever reason, what seemed like a clear match to many was apparently not even on Ben Cherington and co.'s radar.