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.

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.