James Shields' free agency has lasted longer than most everyone expected, but it appears the process is winding down.
Several teams and dollar amounts have been linked to Shields throughout the winter, but as of the weekend, the Padres had emerged as the front-runner, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
USA Today also reported the Padres as favorites to land the right-hander, but added that several teams are still in the hunt.
The constant rumors and mystery have been intriguing. However, all of that may be going away soon as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Shields is expected to decide on a team by Monday.
Shields' reported price tag has fluctuated over the past few months, but with time winding down, ESPN reported that "one official involved in the Shields bidding does not expect final numbers will be as high as $80 million, 4 years."
Shields, 33, has a home in Southern California and, according to Bleacher Report, he likes the idea of pitching in Petco Park.
Shields was 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 34 starts last season with the Royals and he has spent his entire nine-year career in the American League, but if he does sign with a National League team it should come as no surprise as prized free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer also made the jump to the National League this offseason.
William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.