James Shields could be within the Royals price range

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It is expected that, at the end of the season, James Shields will become a free agent. Naturally, the Royals are expected to attempt to secure his services for one year, as it is seemingly a given that they will use the qualifying offer to either keep Shields’ services, or to receive a compensatory pick should he sign elsewhere. As Shields is one of the top free agent pitchers slated to enter the market, it is unlikely that he would accept that one year tender.

However, if the Royals do make that qualifying offer to Shields, it could mean that they have a legitimate interest in resigning him, despite the price tag he is expected to command. This season, the value for the qualifying offer comes to $15.3 Million, which may not be that far off from what Shields could expect to receive in free agency. Since Shields could command somewhere between $80 and $110 Million over four or five years, that difference may be able to be overcome by the Royals.

That $5 to $7 Million difference per year may actually be coming off the books after this season. Longtime Royals designated hitter/occasional first baseman Billy Butler has a team option for the 2015 season worth $12.5 Million, with a $1 Million buyout. As the Royals may look to turn the designated hitter spot into a position based more on matchups, rather than a position manned by one specific player, the money that could have gone to Butler may be repurposed towards signing James Shields to a long term contract.

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  • Resigning Shields would not just be a departure from what the baseball world has come to expect from the Royals, but it would be a message to the team and fanbase as well. With the Royals fresh off a postseason run that, at the very least, will culminate in an appearance in the American League Championship Series, keeping Shields around would signal that the Royals are serious about remaining in the thick of the playoff race. Likewise, the fanbase would likely reward such an expenditure with increased attendance, as the Royals ownership would prove that winning truly matters.

    With Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura both having another year of experience under their belts, bringing James Shields back would give the Royals a truly formidable top of the rotation. Once again, the Royals would have the pitching to take command of the American League, turning this amazing run into the potential start of another Golden Age of Royals baseball.

    The Royals appear to be only a couple of pieces away from beginning another run of dominance. Retaining James Shields would bring them a step closer.

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