James Shields won’t negotiate with Royals past Opening Day

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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.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.