It was expected that the Kansas City Royals would extend a qualifying offer to James Shields this offseason. Now, with today being the deadline to make the offer, the Royals have officially extended that offer to Shields, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star.
In all likelihood, Shields will decline the offer. Along with Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Shields is considered to be one of the top free agent pitchers that will be on the market this season, and is likely to receive a long term contract. Despite his struggles during most of his postseason career, Shields is still a solid top of the rotation pitcher, capable of making a difference for a team on the cusp of reaching the postseason.
If there is a question on James Shields, it would involve the wear on his arm. Since 2007, Shields first full season in the majors, he has pitched a total of 1845 innings in both the regular season and the playoffs, an average of 230.2 per year. While Shields has been remarkably durable during that time, starting over 30 games each year, it may be fair to wonder if or when that workload will catch up to him.
Yet, just because the Royals have extended the qualifying offer to James Shields does not mean that they will not attempt to resign him. As Jon Heyman reported last month, the Royals are expected to make an offer to Shields in free agency, bolstered by their postseason run. After all, the expected four or five year contract worth between $80 and $110 Million is not that much more than the value of the qualifying offer.
Even though James Shields is expected to decline the offer, allowing the Royals to receive a first round draft pick should he sign elsewhere, that may not spell the end of his tenure in Kansas City. At this point, extending the offer was a formality, and could be the prelude to discussions for a new contract with the Royals.