Royals make $15.3 million qualifying offer to James Shields

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As expected the Royals have made a $15.3 million qualifying offer to free agent James Shields, who has until next Monday to accept or decline.

He’ll turn it down, because the 32-year-old right-hander will have no trouble securing a huge long-term deal on the open market, but by making the qualifying offer the Royals guaranteed themselves draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Shields was acquired from the Rays along with Wade Davis in December of 2012 and had two nearly identical, fantastic seasons for the Royals, tossing 229 innings with a 3.15 ERA in 2013 and 227 innings with a 3.21 ERA in 2014.

He’s struggled in the playoffs, posting a 5.46 ERA in 11 starts that goes against his “Big Game James” nickname, but Shields figures to have plenty of $100 million-plus offers.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?