Shields, Butler want to stay with Royals. How realistic are their chances?

James Shields and Billy Butler say they want to stay in Kansas City. But is that really a possibility?


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Sure it’s a possibility, really in life anything is potentially possible but more than likely in this case it isn’t probable. Both players would have to take a substantial pay cut.

The Kansas City Royals have expressed the desire to try to keep James Shields who they acquired in a much debated trade that sent 2013 Rookie of the Year Wil Myers and others to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Though he may have been a 2013 ROY however, he spent most of 2014 on the disabled lis, sufffering a wrist injury that kept him out for more than two month of the season. He hit .222 on the year.

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Shields on the other hand pitched the Royals deep into October. He had a couple iffy postseason starts but his final performance in game five of the World Series was good enough to beat any pitcher.

Any pitcher, that is, except Madison Bumgarner. His October was so flawless we may never see anything like it again.

Shields is still one of the top free agent pitchers now on the free agent market along with Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. Yup smile everyone! It is officially Hot Stove season!

He’ll command a lot of money the way he pitched for the Royals this season, probably a price too high for the Royals to be able to match.

Game seven of the World Series was possibly his last in a Royals uniform but if these words from Shields hold true it may not be.

“I had a phenomenal two years — so far,” Shields said. “I’m still a Royal as it is right now, but I definitely would like to come back.”

Shields went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in a league leading 34 starts. He’s a workhorse pitching over 200 innings in all but one of his nine big league  seasons, his rookie season. A rookie shouldn’t be pitching 200 innings anyway.

He led the league in innings pitched in 2013 posting an even lower 3.15 ERA and in 2011 he pitched a career high 249.1 innings that included 11 complete games, four of them shutouts.

All that said, Shields may very well take a discount if Kansas City offers a decent amount and a long term deal. Shields has pitched close to 2000 innings in his career and he isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be 33 years old in December.

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If the Royals can guarentee long term job security, they may be able to retain Shields services. The plus sides for Shields are he’d still be the ace on what should still be a contending team with lots of young talent  and job security into what I think would have to be his late 30’s. He may stay.

There shouldn’t be the same type of optimism among Royals’ fans when it comes to Billy Butler, which is sad for both Butler and the fans. Butler made his intent to stay in the city he’s fallen in love with very clear on Wednesday night.

“Even if they decline it [his option], you can still talk,” Butler said. “Nothing’s been said. I haven’t been told anything, nor should I. We were focused on the World Series. I bleed Royal blue, and I’m a proven Major League player. If it’s not here, it’s somewhere else, but I’d rather it just be here.”

He bleeds Royal blue. Isn’t that enough to melt any GM’s heart? lt’s the only team Butler has ever known. Drafted by the Royals in the first round of the 2004 draft and debuted in the big leagues on May 1 the following season.

Unfortunately, according to CBS Sports Jon Heyman, Royals general manager Dayton Moore is not likely to pick up Butler’s $12.5 million option. Their other options? A $1 million buyout.

Butler, only 28, has a .295 career batting average over eight seasons with the Royals and can be expected to provide around 15 home runs and 75 RBI a season.

He did not put up his best numbers in 2014, but went 5-15 in the World Series with 3 RBI, scoring one of the Royals’ two runs Wednesday on an RBI single on by Alex Gordon. He was on first when Gordon hit the ball.

Runnng might not be his specialty like the rest of the young, speedy Royals team but he’s not the type of player to not put in the maximum amount of effort.

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It’s not clear how much of a pay cut Shields will be willing to take to remain with the Royals, especially not until the other offers start rolling in. Butler is seems would take any kind of pay cut to stay. At least we know it would be less than $12 million per year.

“My dad’s always told me good things always come to an end, and I hope this isn’t one of those times, this isn’t one of those things that has to end,” Butler said. “I’d like to see if we could build on this next year with this squad. If I’m in those plans, I’ll be here. And if I’m not, there’s nothing I can do about that.”

“It’s one of those things that has to work out for both sides. It’s one of those things where you want to be here, but you have to think if it’s the best thing for your family. Family comes first, and when that decision comes, you have to sit down with your family and see if that’s the right thing. But this organization is my family, as well. You’re right. It does mean a little bit more.”

Depending on how much money Shields and Butler are willing to give up will be a big part of whether or not they’ll stay. Shields, it appears, will have more control over his situation than Butler and Butler could also command a good salary on the free agent market.

The chances of either player staying with the Royals seems unlikely, however, like in life and especially in baseball anything is possible.

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