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Padres sign James Shields finally

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What took you so long, James?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With just 10 days left until pitchers and catchers report to Peoria for the start of spring training, A.J. Preller is still wheeling and dealing. His latest acquisition is James Shields, the ace of the 2014 American League Champion Royals. The deal has been in the works for some time now, and Shields has kept us waiting all weekend for his decision. It was a brutal tease, but at least he didn't get ESPN to do an hourlong special about it. And now it's really real. Well, pending a physical, according to Chris Cotillo, writing for our SB Nation mothership.

The Padres have agreed to sign free agent right-hander James Shields to a four-year contract that includes a club option for a fifth season, according to major-league sources. [...] His deal is expected to be in the $72-76 million range, according to sources.

Even at the low end of that deal, it's by far the largest contract the Padres have ever awarded, eclipsing the $52 million 3-year extension Jake Peavy was signed to in December of 2007.

Shields is expected to add much-needed stability to a rotation badly bitten by injury the last several years. In eight full seasons in the majors, he's never thrown fewer than 200 innings. The only other pitcher currently in the rotation with that kind of workhorse reputation is Ian Kennedy. Tyson Ross put together a strong, healthy season in 2014, and will be looking to prove it was no fluke in 2015. The fourth lock for the rotation is Andrew Cashner, who lost significant time to the DL last season after an impressive 2013 campaign. Even with the fifth starter a mystery, rookie General Manager A.J. Preller has put together a formidable starting rotation to cap off his already impressive offseason.

In summation: James Shields is a Padre. A.J. Preller is amazing. Is it baseball season yet?

And, once again, we need to remind you that this deal is still pending on the physical. But that's never caused a problem before, right?