It had been expected that, from the time that the Kansas City Royals extended the qualifying offer to James Shields, he would reject it. After all, Shields would find himself as one of the top free agent pitchers available in free agency, joining Max Scherzer and Jon Lester as the cream of the starting pitcher crop. With a prospective long term deal likely worth more per annum than the offer, why would he accept the one year, $15.3 Million qualifying offer?
Those expectations have finally come to pass, as not one player, Shields included, accepted their qualifying offers today, according to Jeffrey Flanagan from Fox Sports Kansas City, who got his information from the always reliable Jim Bowden.
So where does this leave the Royals? The loss of James Shields obviously creates a major void atop the rotation, leaving either Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy as the de facto ace. Another top starting pitcher would certainly appear to be a need for the Royals, at least over the next couple of seasons.
According to Dayton Moore, adding another starting pitcher to the rotation is a priority. Even though the Royals are expected to make an offer to Shields, they are not expected to be able to bring him back. As such, the names most commonly bandied about in connection with the Royals that would fit as potential top of the rotation pitchers include A.J. Burnett and the erstwhile Royal Ervin Santana. Adding one of two to the electric duo of Ventura and Duffy, as well as solid innings eaters Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, would give the Royals a rotation that may not miss much of a beat from last year.
The loss of James Shields will certainly leave a void for the Royals. However, they may have a plan in place, and a possible free agent signing, to make up for that. After all, Moore made up for the loss of Santana last year. Why can’t he do it again?