After two years with the Kansas City Royals, James Shields is ready to move on and test free agency. This comes after he chose to turn down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Royals. He figures to be one of the top free agent starting pitchers on the market this offseason.
The 32-year-old Shields came to the Royals in a blockbuster trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that saw the Royals part with outfielder Wil Myers and pitcher Jake Odorizzi among others. He was a key piece of a Royals team that made the playoffs for the first time since 1985 and lost to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. During the regular season he made 34 starts and pitched 227 innings with a 3.21 ERA and 3.59 FIP.
Despite his mostly excellent regular season, the man known as "Big Game James" turned in an underwhelming postseason. The Royals managed to survive a poor start of his in the Wild Card game, but he followed up that stinker with an ERA of 7.00 in two World Series starts.
It is more than likely that Shields does not factor into the Mets' offseason plans for several reasons. First and foremost, it is expected that starting pitching will be an area of strength for the Mets. Matt Harvey returns to an already crowded rotation containing Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, and Jon Niese. In addition, several arms wait in the minor leagues, most notably Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Barring trades of multiple pitchers, there simply is no room for Shields. Even if there was space, he will likely command more money than the front office would be willing to dole out.
As one of the top starting pitchers on the market, Shields will get a contract to match this status, it just won't come from the Mets.