Impending free agent James Shields has told the Royals that he won’t negotiate beyond Opening Day, choosing to hit the open market if a deal can’t be worked out before then.
Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the two sides have yet to engage in any talks, so an extension seems unlikely. Kansas City gave up a prospct package headlined by Rookie of the Year winner Wil Myers to get Shields from the Rays, but they’ll at least be able to fetch draft pick compensation if he does sign elsewhere.
Shields is one of the best starters in the league and will no doubt be a hot commodity as a 33-year-old free agent, but it’s worth noting that recent free agents like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, and Ricky Nolasco got deals for closer to $50 million than the usual $100 million-plus that’s often thrown around as speculation for impending free agents.
In other words, it’s entirely possible that the Royals could get a better price on retaining Shields if they let the market unfold a bit, although that’s also certainly a big risk.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.