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.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.