A big key, perhaps the most important key, to the Royals being successful in 2014 hinges on someone who the fans in Kansas City have seemingly learned to take for granted: James Shields.
The guy had one good season in Kansas City and now the fans seem to underplay how important he is to the Royals successs. Why do we take for granted the guy who we had been wishing for ever since we gave away Zack Greinke? It’s like we already know he will be a guy who will go out there and lead our rotation every five days.
There’s good reason for that, too.
James Shields can be considered a poster child for consistency during his time in Major League Baseball. Since he entered the league with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2006, and played his first full season in 2007, he hasn’t had a season where he pitched below 200 innings and started less than 33 games. That is exactly what you want from your “ace”.
Now, just 4 days away until he takes the mound in Detroit on Opening Day to face the division rival Tigers, he seems like he hasn’t skipped a beat since his last start during the wildcard chase the Royals were in during late September of last season.
With a 2.61 ERA through his first five starts of Spring Training, opponents are only hitting with a .181 average against Shields. “Big Game James” looks poised to have yet another stellar season in 2014. At least that is what Shields is hoping since he is pitching for a new contract this season.
After 2014, Shields will be a free agent, and it is very likely that he will get an ace-like contract from a team other than the Royals.
Shields, now 33, could potentially pull in a contract that would last him until the end of his career. If this were the case, he could potentially pull in a contract worth more than $100 million.
Plain and simple, the Royals have to be smart with how they spend their money in these next few years. Young, homegrown talents such as Eric Hosmer and Yordano Ventura will be earning big pay-days within the coming years. They can’t afford to lose those players for over-spending on older players.
I’m not saying James Shields isn’t worth that kind of contract. I’m simply saying the Royals should be considerate of their future young studs.
Either way, once James Shields takes the mound on Opening Day, he can almost be considered a free agent already because he said he will not negotiate his contract once the season begins.
It should be interesting to see the strategy that Dayton Moore takes heading into these crucial years for the Royals’ franchise.