Maybe worrying about this kind of stuff is pointless this early in the season, but I’m not the only Kansas City Royals fan with the topic of James Shields‘ contract on my mind. Shields is playing his last contractual year as a Royal, and the club is still far from fulfilling their expectations for this season. Will KC be able to re-sign their most influential pitcher, or will he sign a mega-deal elsewhere?
After what will hopefully be another remarkably solid season in KC, many large-market teams will surely come knocking with big-money, long-term offers. The Royals may fight to give Shields a competitive offer, but it should come down to one indescribably important question: will Shields buy into the Royals’ plan for success enough to accept a hometown discount? There’s just no way KC can win in a bidding war with teams like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, as most Royals fans recognize. This means their current ace needs to believe he can win there if the team wants him to be their No. 1 for years to come.
As of right now, while KC sits 6.5 games behind their division’s front-runner and four clubs stand between the Royals and a Wild Card spot, I can’t honestly predict that Shields would want to re-sign here. This question can’t be answered until the team determines their playoff fate for the year; but right now, a royal return for Big Game James seems unlikely.
Shields is the highest-paid Royal of this season, but only the 11th-highest-paid player in the AL Central. That just goes to show how hopeless KC will be if money is the sole factor on Shields’ mind when this season is over.