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

Homer Bailey May Provide the Framework for James Shields Extension

Sep 6, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields (33) delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Homer Bailey is a pitcher with a 49-45 record over seven years, having put together a 4.25 ERA and a 1.319 WHiP in his career. Bailey, however, has been better over the past three seasons, putting together a 33-29 record with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.206 WHiP. Even with that improvement, Bailey has still been roughly league average over the past three years, with an ERA+ of only 105. This performance was deemed to be worthy of a six year, $105 Million extension by the Reds. Perhaps, since Bailey will still only be 27 at the start of the year, the Reds may be banking on Bailey to improve even more over his past three seasons.

Meanwhile, James Shields is on the opposite end of the spectrum. While Bailey has pitched over 200 innings only twice in his career, Shields has gone over that mark in each of the last seven seasons. He has been able to establish himself on that level just below a true ace, proving to be a solid top starter. In the past three seasons, Shields has put together a 44-31 record with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.146 WHiP. His durability and reputation as a big game pitcher would seemingly indicate that Shields would be able to receive a better contract than what Homer Bailey got from the Reds.

Yet, that durability may well work against Shields. While he has been dependable, and taken the ball every fifth day without fail since 2008, Shields also has put a lot of innings on his right arm. A free agent after this season, teams may be concerned with the potential of those innings catching up. As Shields will be 33 years old when he hits free agency, that injury risk could certainly become a factor.

It is highly unlikely that James Shields will be receiving a six year offer, but could the Bailey extension provide a framework for what Shields could receive each year? Shields is set to earn $13.5 Million this year, so a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of the $17.5 Million that Bailey will average each year could be what his agent looks to target in free agency.

While that is not exactly Zack Greinke money, it is still likely more than the Royals would feel comfortable giving Shields. Chances are, after the season, the Royals will extend a qualifying offer to Shields, and hope for draft pick compensation should he sign elsewhere. They may even be willing to spend around $15 Million per year to keep Shields in Kansas City for a few more years. But would Shields and his agent be willing to accept that, when he may be able to get more in the open market?

The Royals are going to have a major decision to make with James Shields soon. However, the extension the Reds gave Homer Bailey may give them an idea as to what the cost would be to keep Shields around.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Been kicking the idea around for awhile, but this all comes down to business model for the club and an either/or. On the one hand, signing Shields is attractive for his expected production, on the other hand, Shields money could extend some number of young players, Hosmer with a Freeman extension as an example, Duffy and Ventura getting a Matt Moore or even early James Shields extension another. The question becomes, do we want Shields for the next four years more than we want the kids for an extra two or three years down the road?

    From Shields’ side, the current market may give him pause on demanding too much. The market does seem to be shifting from paying veterans for past performance to paying early prime players for future performance. Maybe he’ll accept the QO.

    • Dave Hill

      I think that, given how long some of these free agents have been out there after declining the QO, someone is going to accept it next year. Hope it ends up being Shields, but I doubt it.

      • jimfetterolf

        Teams probably see players accepting QOs but also see prices for FAs dropping somewhat after this year and with the “trend” of extending young talent. Next year Santana, Cruz, and several others wouldn’t get a QO for fear they would accept it.

        I expect the market to sort this out such that Shields may get a $15m-ish QO and may take it as a 33 yr old with a lot of miles on his arm while Baltimore won’t put a QO on Nelson Cruz and he’ll just walk, looking at maybe a 1/10 contract, all else being equal. At this point I think Santana might come back to the Royals for 1/14, realizing he probably doesn’t get a QO next year and if he does he’ll snap it up.

  • jessanders

    I don’t want Shields on a long term deal.

    This franchise needs very badly for 2 of Ventura, Duffy and Zimmer to work out, and at least one of Adam, Almonte and Manea.

    If they don’t, the Royals won’t stay competitive, with our without Shields. If they do, then we won’t need Shields and can go with lower rotation starters.