In a move that comes as a mere formality, the Kansas City Royals announced that they have exercised right-hander James Shields' $13.5 million club option for 2014. Shields, 31, will become a free agent after next season and has expressed a willingness to return to Kansas City.
After being acquired along with Wade Davis in a blockbuster deal last offseason that sent Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Rays, Shields posted one of the best seasons of his career in 2013.
In a career-high 34 starts, the right-hander was 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA, 7.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 228.2 innings, providing an extremely strong showing at the top of Kansas City's rotation all season.
In eight major league seasons with the Rays (2006-2012) and Royals (2013), Shields has a lifetime 100-82 record and 3.79 ERA in 252 games. His best season came in 2011, when he finished third in American League Cy Young voting after pitching to a 2.82 ERA and tallying 16 wins on the season.
With Shields locked up for 2014, the Royals will likely shift their focus to right-hander Ervin Santana, who is now a free agent. Both sides have expressed a willingness to reunite on a long-term deal, but Santana's strong 2013 season will likely put him in line for a big payday on the open market.