The Kansas City Royals made a big splash in 2012 when they traded away top-rated prospect Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis. It revealed a desire to transition from rebuilding to contending in Kansas City. 

But Shields was always perceived as a bit of a “rental player.” The Royals would keep him until his current contract ran out and then move on, happily receiving the draft-pick compensation the pitcher would be attached to.

To this point, it seems that perception is reality. Shields delivered Kansas City two good seasons. The team found some success in the postseason. Now, Shields’ contract has expired and he will pitch elsewhere on a brand new, high-dollar contract.

But it’s January, Shields doesn’t have a new contract and the market for the hurler has yet to truly materialize. There is plenty of speculation, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has pointed out, but it seems to be nothing more.

It would be fair to assume that Shields will receive a contract worth less than originally thought the deeper into the offseason he goes. It may also come with a lower dollar value or fewer years than what he was hoping for. Those factors could lead to a reunion with the Royals.

The Royals are not a team that is known to splurge on its players. They tend to bring players on at a low cost and allow them to accumulate value. Shields may be open to a short-term contract that would allow him to re-approach the market again later.

The problem is that Shields in not getting any younger. He will open the 2015 season at 33 years old. Coming back to market at the age of 34 or 35 is certainly not going to help the right-hander find a long-term deal. His market may very well diminish before he can get back to it, even in a year or two.

Rosenthal states in his piece a belief that Shields will eventually sign a deal worth $70 to 80 million over the course of four years. The low end of that speculation would certainly drive some interest in Shields.

He goes on to speculate where Shields may wind up, citing a recent MLB Network Radio interview with Royals general manager Dayton Moore. Moore told the show, “I can’t say it hasn’t crossed my mind. At this point in time, though, it’s doubtful we bring back James.”

Doubtful does not mean impossible. Shields would solidify an impressive rotation in Kansas City. He would do the same for a lot of clubs. Ultimately, there may not be another team that understands Shields’ value as well as the Royals.

As Moore stated, Shields returning to Kansas City is doubtful. But doubts are the stuff dreams are made of, and January is when doubts turn into reality.


Transaction and age information in this article courtesy of

Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball anytime.

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