The Red Sox are the “early favorite” for James Shields. We’re doing this already?

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Andy McCullough of the KC Star has a story today noting, quite correctly, that in addition to trying to pitch his Kansas City Royals into the World Series, James Shields is also auditioning for a big free agent contract after the season ends:

At 32, he figures to be the most affordable of the three. Kansas City is expected to at least attempt to retain him, even after Shields rejects a one-year, $15 million qualifying offer, but the competition in the market should be fierce. Boston has emerged as the early favorite for his services, but plenty of other clubs should be in the mix.

First a contract extension for J.J. Hardy, then a weird rumor about a Yasiel Puig trade and now we’re handicapping free agent destinations for guys who are still playing.

And you thought it was offensive that they sold pumpkin beer in July and that Macy’s has Christmas crap up already.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.