Royals pick up $13.5M contract option on James Shields

butt. - Jim Rogash

As expected, Shields will return to KC for a second season.

There was never any doubt that the Royals would bring their rotation ace back for a second season, but now it's official. Kansas City has exercised the $13.5 million option for 2014 on right-hander James Shields' contract, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

Shields, of course, was acquired along with Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson in the big trade with the Rays last winter in exchange for top prospect Wil Myers and three other minor leaguers. The veteran right-hander was brought on to solidify the Royals' rotation and hopefully usher them into their first postseason of this century.

While the Royals failed to make the playoffs in the end, it wasn't for lack of effort from their big acquisition. Shields finished the year with a 3.15 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of nearly three-to-one in a league-leading 228⅔ innings, playing a huge part in the team's first winning season in a decade.

With the veteran right-hander now officially on board for 2014, the Royals' rotation for next season is currently comprised of Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and three large question marks. Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen have hit free agency, and the 2013 struggles of Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza don't guarantee them a spot in the rotation.

Unless the Royals try working out a contract extension sometime in the next year, Shields will go on the open market following the 2014 season.

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