Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Rumors: Kansas City Royals could look to trade James Shields?

The Kansas City Royals do not look like a contending team. There is still time for them to turn things around, but if things don’t improve soon they will face a tough decision with ace pitcher and impending free agent James Shields.

Shields promises to fetch a handsome contract north of $100 million on the open market. The Royals are unlikely to be the team to pay him that deal, and so they face a decision: use the protection of a qualifying offer to ensure that they get at least one draft pick for losing him, or seek a trade for him now to get multiple pieces in return?

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! writes that the Royals have put themselves in a position where general manager Dayton Moore must explore a trade for Shields this summer:

And so unless lightning strikes their bats, it is incumbent on Moore not just to entertain trading Shields but to do so. He struggles with dealing known quantities…Positioning Shields as the antidote to the high prices of Price and Samardzija while still asking for a strong bounty is the reasonable, and proper, tack…

…Some teams in this position could afford to keep Shields. The Royals are not one of them.

Shields would be cheaper in terms of prospects in a trade because he is a free agent after this season, as opposed to David Price and Jeff Samardzija who are both under team control through 2015.

Given the high expectations of the last two seasons, the Royals probably still fancy themselves legit contenders in the American League Central. But if this team continues to trend the wrong direction, they would definitely be wise to look to the future and trade Shields this summer.

Tags: James Shields Kansas City Royals

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