Report: Erik Johnson, Fernando Tatis Jr. possibly involved in James Shields deal

Yesterday, WhiteSoxDave of Barstool Sports reported to me that the White Sox were in serious talks with the San Diego Padres about starting pitcher James Shields. Shields, who is making 21 million this year, can opt out of his contract after this season to reach free agency if he wishes. If not, he is owed at least 44 million over the 2017 and 2018 seasons when adding in his 2019 buyout. If Shields were so inclined to opt-out of his deal, the team in ownership of his contract would be afforded the opportunity to recuperate a compensation pick from the qualifying offer process assuming the upcoming collective bargaining agreement does not change the current construction of the draft pick compensation system.

What the White Sox would supposedly give up to obtain the veteran right-hander is RHP Erik Johnson and 17-year-old infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. It is unclear whether there are more pieces or cash also on the table at this juncture.

Johnson, who most White Sox fans are familiar with, was scheduled to start for the Charlotte Knights tonight. In the last few hours, the probable starter for the Knights has been switched to TBD. Johnson, 26, is 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA and 25/12 K/BB in 35.1 IP for the Knights this year. He’s also picked up two spot starts for the parent club and lost both while giving up 9ER in 11.2 IP and a 11/6 K/BB ratio. Johnson, in his age 26 season, has made starts in the major leagues in each of the last four seasons. The UC Berkeley product was also awarded as top pitcher in the International League in 2015. While Johnson is known for being very intense and analytical in his approach on the mound, there have been whispers that his methodology could be a detriment to his performance. At this point, he’s been a reliable AAA performer but has yet to establish himself in any way in the MLB.

Tatis Jr., the lesser known quantity of the two, was one of, if not the highest heralded prospects in the White Sox 2015 July 2nd international spending period. Tatis Jr. is the son of the former big leaguer of the same name. Tatis Jr. speaks perfect english and has a good reputation amongst his teammates. Much like fellow White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo, his father playing professional baseball has afforded him luxuries to better serve him in his transition coming stateside.

While Tatis Jr. was listed as a shortstop as the time his acquisition, the Dominican native has been playing third base in instructional ball in Glendale according to California League scout and Arizona back field frequenter Chris Kusiolek. Kusiolek also relayed his assessments to us and while he says Tatis is raw, he has some explosiveness and will likely move off of third base and return to the middle infield in the future.

Our Kim Contreras had this to say about the young Dominican import after she saw him last year in Arizona:

3B – Fernando Tatis Jr. – listed at 6’3”, 185lbs – and that sounds about right. The 16 year old son of former MLBer, performed well at the hot corner. High socks on the tall, thin right-hander complimented his projectable power.

Bill Mitchell of Baseball America had comments on Tatis Jr. from his performance earlier today:

This situation remains fluid and the particular details are not set in stone but there is a lot of smoke and certainly reason to keep an eye out moving forward.

***Kudos to Barstool’s WhiteSoxDave for being the initial report on this matter and for elaborating further with us. Special thanks to Chris Kusiolek, Kim Contreras and Bill Mitchell for their perspective and insights on Tatis Jr. as well as Editor and stalwart Matt Cassidy for providing his assistance putting this article as always.

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