Sep 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

James Shields Wants an Extension, Not Zack Greinke Money


Jun 12, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) delivers a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We had heard the reports that James Shields would be open to an extension with the Royals. Such a move would would make sense for both sides – the Royals would have their ace locked up for a few more years and Shields could be a valuable mentor to the young starters on the verge of reaching the majors. Meanwhile, the extension would give Shields stability and the knowledge that he would be calling Kansas City home for the foreseeable future. Then when it was rumored that Shields was asking for Zack Greinke money, those thoughts quickly vanished.

However, that report may not be true. According to Shields, he never asked for that type of compensation, saying that those reports just are not true.

“That’s absolutely not true,” Shields said. “I have no idea where he got that from, to be honest with you.”

What is known is that James Shields does want an extension, and that he would like to remain in Kansas City. Shields likes the direction that the Royals are heading in, and wants to be around when the turnaround is complete.

“I like Kansas City, I like the organization and I like the direction we’re going.”

Shields is the right type of pitcher for the Royals to look to build their rotation around. Having been with the Rays when they turned their fortunes around, he has already been a part of helping to change the direction of the franchise. That knowledge of what it takes to win and the aura of winning that he carries with him would make Shields the perfect mentor for the Royals pitching prospects.

It would also make sense to extend James Shields not only due to his performance and how he could impact the Royals in the future, but because of what it cost to get him. Trading Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi left Dayton Moore open to being second guessed, but retaining Shields beyond 2014 would help to minimize some of that criticism.

Chances are, should an extension not get worked out, the Royals will make Shields a qualifying offer. As with other pitchers saddled by that tag and the draft pick compensation that would occur should they be signed, Shields may end up struggling to locate a team willing to give him a contract. But what kind of contract would entice him to remain with the Royals? Perhaps a three or four year deal worth around $16 Million per season would be enough to keep Shields in Kansas City for the next few years.

Just a few days ago, it seemed inevitable that James Shields would leave at the end of the year due to his salary demands. Now, it turns out that this may not be the case at all. Perhaps James Shields will end up being the player that remains in Kansas City.

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  • Marcus Meade

    There are many concerns with resigning James Shields. I’ll name only a few. 1) He’s old. This will be his age 32 season, and not every pitcher ages well. There have been many posts written about Shields’ potential decline. 2) The Royals have pitchers developing who will need a slot in the rotation soon. Yordano Ventura will probably fall victim to the abundant signing of major league average (or slightly below) pitchers this season. Then, Kyle Zimmer will need a slot. Miguel Almonte will need a slot. Jason Adam will need a slot. Sean Manaea will need a slot. I know a team can never have too much pitching (and not all these players will make it to the majors), but a team can have too much aging, average pitching signed to contracts that are difficult to move. Signing Shields to a deal worth 16 million a year leaves the Royals with 3-4 years of him, 3 years of Vargas, and at least one more year of Guthrie (probably two). So, if Shields ages somewhat gracefully, that’s one above average and declining pitcher for 3-4 years, one average (or slightly below) pitcher for 3 years, and one average (or slightly below) pitcher for 1-2 years at a grand total of something like $32 million a year. Which brings me to my final concern … 3) Extending young position players. If the Royals throw more money at Shields, will they be able to extend Eric Hosmer? I’m of the mind that Hosmer is gone almost regardless of what the Royals would offer him, but if they keep spending money on average starting pitching, there won’t be much left to even try.

    I have a sentimental attachment to Shields, and that part of me wants him extended for a few more years. I think he’ll probably age fairly gracefully (though he does have a ton of innings on his arm). He just seems like a good guy to me, and I do put some stock in clubhouse presence and mentoring roles. I wish it wasn’t this way, but the small-budget nature of the Royals is in conflict with a model of roster construction that doesn’t have a lot of turnover. If the Royals are going to get to a place of consistent competition, they have to take the step of preparing players for major league roles, counting on them, and letting aging, expensive players go. It sucks, but that’s the formula until the Royals decide to start spending more money.

    • Kory

      The Royals have obviously decided to start spending more money hence the highest payroll they have ever had. NOT resigning him would be an utter mistake. None of the guys in the minors have proven they can last past 5 innings on a regular basis in the majors where as James is a perennial 200+ inning ace. Even if he declines he would be a very solid 2. Relying on touted young starters has not bode well for KC a la Hochevar and Montgomery and the list goes on. Sign the proven, talented, reliable top of the rotation guy and let the minors work itself out.

      • Marcus Meade

        I understand that the Royals have the highest payroll they’ve ever had, but adjust it for “baseball inflation” *coining a term*. All the other teams are spending at their highest levels too, or at the very least, their payrolls are increasing over time. The Royals, while spending at their highest levels are not spending anywhere near as much as it would take to shift their model to something resembling a Red Sox, Yankees, or Dodgers and probably not even resembling a mid-market team. In order to keep up and catch up, their payroll would need to explode. It’s gone up about $10 million from last season. That’s not going to do it if they want to have a model that allows them to hold onto players the fanbase is attached to.

        It’s true, minor league players have not proven they can pitch well in the major leagues … because they’ve been in the minor leagues (although Ventura did very well in his limited action last year). And they won’t prove it … until they pitch in the major leagues. James Shields hadn’t proved he could pitch effectively in the majors until he was given the chance to and did. The same could be said for anyone who has ever played major league baseball. That’s how a linear notion of time and causation works.

        • jimfetterolf

          One note on the money game, Royals have a small local media contract that keeps them even lower on total money than some comparable market teams. Until the new contract in 2020, Royals will be forced to continue the business model of developing from within, then trading expensive veterans for quality prospects and keep reloading. Trading for Shields brought the Royals legitimacy and helped them take the step up to contention, not unlike Tampa signing Carlos Pena, but within the business model that should be a one-off and not repeated as it leads to a Marlins’ style of boom and bust rather than a sustainable contender. Had the Royals had better results from Montgomery, Lamb, and even Duffy the Shields deal would have not been needed.

        • Kory

          The fact of the matter is that the Royals will NEVER spend as much as any of those teams. Are you content with being a constant minor league team? Because to me what you are saying is develop players, trade them, and then start the whole process over. At what point do you decide winning is more important than a minor league system filled with potential that may never pan out. Every one of those guys will get a shot, but 90% of them most likely wouldn’t even be ready in the next 2-3 years. Mark my words, Shields is the best pitcher the Royals will have a chance at signing for the next ten years and if he actually wants to stay and we have a legit shot at signing him for a price we like, it would be an utter disappointment. Give up what many believed to be MVP talent with Myers for 2 years with James.

          • Marcus Meade

            Perhaps, a second read then. I clearly never said “develop players, trade them, and then start the process over.” And upon reading your post (very carefully), it seems as if you’re positing two, contradictory positions. 1) “the Royals will NEVER spend as much as any of those teams” (Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and mid-market teams). 2) The Royals need to sign proven major league talent. This begs the question, how? What will they pay these proven major league veterans with? Boulevard Wheat? If they won’t spend money, how do they sign players? I’m totally fine with the spending more money model, and within that model, I’d be thrilled to extend James Shields. But as you so clearly pointed out the Royals will NEVER do that. We could dive into the oh-so familiar territory of ‘Glass is rich. He should spend more money’ but that’s just a waste of time because he won’t. We could state that an exception should be made for Shields, and the Royals should work outside a successful small-market model to sign him. But teams that make exceptions outside their model, flounder. They display that they don’t have a cohesive strategy.

            If the Royals can get Shields for a team-friendly deal, sure, they should go for it. They might even be able too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he seems more willing to extend after watching what Santana is going through this offseason. But if he wants market money, let him go. Eventually, a small-market team needs to sink or swim on its development and use free agency to provide final pieces, not foundational ones.

    • jimfetterolf

      Agree, Marc. Letting Shields move on with a QO is pretty much demanded by the business model. He had a good year last year, everyone hopes he has an even better one this year, but the Royals will never reach the point where they should be paying market value for aging veterans, instead need to develop aging veterans in house and trade them for prospects and continually reload.

      Good post, I miss your work. Maybe you can polish it and offer it to Big Dave as a top post?

      • Marcus Meade

        I appreciate that, Jim. But I’m good posting wildly long comments to avoid working on other stuff.

        • jimfetterolf

          Understood. I probably produce more content in comments than most bloggers in posts and it fits my style and mental schedule better. So keep commenting, we’ve had some fun exchanges over the years and I usually learn something from you.

  • Eric Akers

    Oh, the emotional swings are too much!

  • Royals_Fan

    The big deal the Royals should be looking at is the future of Hosmer. He is going to be someone who can alter the team.

    Keep this in mind. We are spending $5M on Hoch, $4.8M on Davis with a team option next year, nearly $5M on Chen and $8M on Butler this year with a $12.5M option or a $1M buy out. Next year if we let these players go/trade them that is over $30M we can put somewhere else. Granted we need to sign Holland, Crow, Collins and Herrera but they won’t require a huge chunk of cash, hints Collins and Crow making about $3M combined. Holland might be the most expensive but that’s it.

    Gordon and Hosmer should be Royals for life. Hosmer seems to love KC and if we win he won’t want to leave. Same with Gordon. This brings me to Shields. IMO, we should keep Shields for at least 3 more years. That puts him at 35 years old. Give him a 5 year contract with a team option after year 3. If he really likes KC he will stay, but everyone wants to play for a winner. We need to keep winning to stay alive or else we will go back to the late 90s early 2000s team. Having Shields, Duffy, Ventura, Vargas and Guthrie isn’t a bad line up. Three low-mid fastball pitchers, one mid-high fast ball and one 87-90mph fastball pitcher could be a good combination.

    The Royals need to do whatever they can to keep the defense together though. Having 5 Golden Glove nominees and 3 winners is a pitcher paradise. We keep Salvy, Hos, Moose, Infante, Esky/Colon, Gordon, Cain and whomever I’m RF we could have an ideal landing spot for FA pitchers…if we continue to win and make playoffs. (Butler needs to be traded at the ASB this year)

  • Bigtexjayhawk

    Bottom line is this….if KC cannot draft and develop their own pitchers they MUST overpay to sign guys like Shields. KC MUST sign Shields. There is no way you trade away Myers and get only 2 years from Shields. We have got to match Detroits pitching. The key to this year will be ONE player. VARGAS…if he does good the Royals made a great decision. If not and Santana goes somewhere else then that money spent was useless. As seen by the resigning of Chen we have a crafty lefty signed to a pretty low investment. What GMDM needs to do is start wheeling and dealing to overhaul position players too. Butler, Esky, Moose, Hoss. Nobody should be safe except Salvy.

  • moretrouble

    I offer an alternative view from what most posters suggest. Fans have bought into this “build a team through the draft” philosophy espoused by Dayton Moore. What teams actually do is build teams three ways, 1) through the draft, 2) through trades, and 3) through free agency. iIf you look at what Dayton has done the last few years, that’s exactly it.

    While going from 60 to 72 wins may take X amount of dollars, it’s more expensive from 72 to 86. From 86 to 96 for the same dollars — impossible. Often, free agency is the only way to add the last few pieces at the precise time they’re needed.

    There is the entire issue of retaining talent. Minor league systems produce few premium prospects — that’s why premium veteran free agents are so expensive. Payroll inflation is real and Kansas City cannot produce a sufficient number of premium prospects to cap payroll. That’s impossible.

    The Miami Marlins have won 2 World Series in the last 15 years. If boom and bust cycles can be avoided — then where are the Oakland, Tampa and Pittsburgh championships? It’s not enough to say — well, all we’re trying to do is be competitive. You must win championships — something the Miami Marlins have done.

    If Kansas City wants to win, David Glass will have to bear the burden of inflated payroll. It’s the responsibility of the owner — and David Glass has done a poor job of creating income, other than cook the books and plead poverty in order to gain access to revenue sharing. If Glass truly wants to win, he’ll acquire the players needed to accomplish that — otherwise, it will be a boom/bust cycle for KC, albeit a modest one: last to third to last. I’d rather see a championship.