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Red Sox are 'early favorites' to sign James Shields

The Red Sox are expected to pursue tonight's ALCS game one starting pitcher in the offseason.

Jamie Squire

The Boston Red Sox had a tumultuous season in 2014, and are now looking to retool for next year. Among Boston's targets is Kansas City Royals' right-hander and impending free agent James Shields, and according to the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough, he may be pitching in Boston come next season, as the Red Sox are considered to be the "early favorites" to land the 32-year-old ace.

With the Royals' World Series hopes still very much alive and Shields scheduled to start Friday's game one of the ALCS against the Orioles, the news is still clearly premature given that Shields can't even (legally) negotiate with other clubs until November 1st.

Along with Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, Shields is easily one of the top pitchers available on this year's market. Per McCullough, he should be in line for a mammoth payday, as rival executives expect him to land a five-year contract with a total salary of $80 to $100 million. As McCullough notes, the largest contract in Royals' history is the $55 million deal given to Gil Meche prior to the 2007 season, so it may be a bit of a stretch to expect the Royals to re-up Shields.

Shields, of course, was acquired by the Royals before the 2013 season in the much-maligned trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that sent a package of four prospects, headlined by Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, to the Rays in exchange for Shields and Wade Davis, who has also been spectacular this season as Kansas City's primary set-up man. Shields, who will turn 33 in December, is among the most consistent pitchers in the game, having logged at least 225 innings in each of the past four years, and at least 200 in each of the past 8. Shields was solid once again in 2014, notching a 14-8 record, 3.21 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 4.09 K/BB, and 3.7 WAR.