Mostly a no-brainer but still good news to Rays fans, the team has elected to exercise James Shields' $7.5 million option for 2012 (Marc Topkin | St. Petersburg Times). MLBTR makes a good point in that had the club not exercised the option on Shields' contract, they would have gone to arbitration where he would've received an even higher salary in excess of the $7.5M option.
This follows on the heels of Shields' bounce-back 2011 season, in which he racked up 4.9 Wins Above Replacement (fangraphs), mostly due to a high number of innings-pitched (249, with 11 complete games) while maintaining a ridiculously-good ERA of 2.82. To fully appreciate how different he was this season, consider this: he's started exactly 33 games for four years in a row but had never completed more than 219 IP or had an ERA lower than 3.56. What a turn-around.
We're still awaiting word on Kyle Farnsworth's and Kelly Shoppach's options.