Rays will exercise $10.25 million option on James Shields

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In one of the biggest no-brainer calls of the offseason, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have informed right-hander James Shields that they’ll exercise his $10.25 million option for 2013.

Shields is a tremendous bargain at that price after bouncing back from a rough 2010 season to throw 477 innings with a 3.15 ERA and 448/123 K/BB ratio during the past two years.

He’s cracked 200 innings in six straight seasons, struck out a career-high 8.8 batters per nine innings this year, and because they were smart enough to lock him up to a long-term extension early the Rays also hold an option on Shields for 2014.

The only question now is whether a team that’s always heavy on young pitching and always light on payroll room will shop Shields around this winter.

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.

The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.

Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.