White Sox discussing trade for Padres’ James Shields

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James Shields of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at PETCO Park on May 19, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY — The White Sox and San Diego Padres have discussed a potential trade that would bring veteran right-hander James Shields to the South Side.

The Padres are looking to shed salary and the Sox are looking to bolster their pitching, and Shields, signed to a four-year, $75 million deal as a free agent before the 2015 season, is the type of starter the Sox need to not only contend for the American League Central but to provide a legitimate No. 3 type starter in a potential playoff series behind ace Chris Sale and No. 2 Jose Quintana.

Shields, 34, has pitched to a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts for the 20-29 Padres. He is owed $21 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and his deal allows him to opt out after this season.

A major league source said the Padres have asked about shortstop Tim Anderson, the Sox’ top prospect, which for the Sox would be a steep price to pay.

“It would be “going for it now,” the source said.  “Shields is in his mid 30s so it’s a significant risk. Unless of course the Padres eat money in order to get a better return of players. The talks seem to be very specific at this point.”

The Padres are willing to absorb some of Shields’ contract in a trade, the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Sox saved $13 million in payroll when Adam LaRoche retired during spring training.

Shields is 129-103 with a 3.72 ERA over 11 seasons with Tampa Bay, Kansas City and San Diego.

General manager Rick Hahn has made it clear he’s looking to deal as soon as possible. Assistant general manager Buddy Bell said Friday that the Sox, despite having needs in their everyday lineup, are prioritizing pitching as they look to bolster their roster.

“To beat better pitching you have to have better pitchers,” Bell said. “You have to be better yourself. That’s how I look at it.”

“Overall we still like our team. There is no reason not to. But you can always add pitching. You can always look to get better there. The problem is every one is looking for that.

“We’re going to contend all year so it’s sort of a no brainer for us. Rick and Kenny [Williams] are going to add whenever they can. Pitching is always the first priority. It always will be that way in our organization.”

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