Longtime baseball writer and our tenth President, Peter Gammons, had a brief snippet about upcoming free agent pitchers in the wake of the Clayton Kershaw extension. Among those free agents is our own ace in the hole, James Shields. About Big Game James, Gammons writes:
Well then. Greinke signed a 6 year $147 million deal with the Dodgers back in December of 2012. Greinke was entering his age 29 season with the new contract, James Shields will be 33 on Opening Day 2015. Greinke put up 24.2 WAR in his five seasons leading up to his new deal, James would have to have a 14 WAR season this year to match that. Greinke had a much higher peak and higher upside, Shields is perhaps a bit more consistent.
If we look at future payroll obligations, adding a player with an AAV of $24.5 million (6/$147 mill) would push our existing contractual obligations to about $80 million, and that's if we decline Wade Davis' option (fat chance!) and before we've paid the arbitration-eligible Eric Hosmer, Greg Holland, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain (pricey!).
Will James get that kind of money? Probably not. Its looking doubtful Ervin Santana will get the $100 million contract he was asking for. With Kershaw now off the market, the free agent pitching class for next year still looks good, but not great. Jon Lester, Homer Bailey, Justin Masterson, Brandon McCarthy, Josh Johnson, and Jake Peavy are likely to be the cream of the crop. Shields may not get $24 million, but with teams flush with cash, $16-18 million per year is probably not out of the question.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, that draft pick compensation in 2015 sure will be nice. Enjoy James while you can Royals fans.