Royals mailbag: What’s on Billy Butler’s mind? Will KC negotiate with James Shields?

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) throws in the first inning during Monday's baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on September 15, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) throws in the first inning during Monday's baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on September 15, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Star

On the eve of a massive series against the Tigers, let’s dive into various Royals topics heading into the final days of the season.

Butler and I talked for a little while after Wednesday’s game. You can read his thoughts on this upcoming series with Detroit here.

As for the good stuff: Butler approached me earlier in the week to explain why he did not want to answer questions about his playing time. He indicated he did not want to be perceived as a distraction, not when he had played 10 years in this organization building up toward an opportunity like this. His discontent was obvious, but Butler stressed he only wants to contribute to this club in any way possible down the stretch.

If the Royals make the playoffs, I am sure he would make the roster. It’s not like they’re overflowing with offensive options.

Your first point — the in-division trade problem — scotches these talks likely before they get started. Plus, I am not sure any club will give up a right-handed power hitter for a one-inning reliever, even a club that has struggled in bullpen building like Detroit has.

A few thoughts:

1. “Dumping a lot of trash” seems like a sound strategy for building a franchise, but I am not sure if applies here.

2. Rare is the long-term contract for a pitcher that works out favorably for the club. Ask the Yankees about CC Sabathia. Ask the Phillies about Cliff Lee. Ask the Tigers about Justin Verlander and his 4.81 ERA.

This is only my opinion, as the Royals have refused to comment on Shields’ status all season long (though I can tell you, based on interviews with people with knowledge of the situation, that there have been no talks of an extension). But I would be surprised if the Royals make a formal offer to keep Shields. I imagine the bidding for his services will exceed their price range, and the club will become aware of this early on. They went through a similar process with Ervin Santana last winter. The team will extend him the qualifying offer. He will decline. Then the Royals will gladly accept the compensatory draft pick when he signs elsewhere.

The early consensus, based on industry chatter and conversations on my part, is Shields is easily going to get a four-year deal, and likely a five-year deal. The final bill should approach $100 million, though it may fall a tad short. The Royals are not built to give out contracts like that. They hope their influx of younger pitchers, like Brandon Finnegan, Kyle Zimmer and Sean Manaea, can lessen the sting of Shields’ departure.

Cuthbert lacks the power to play first base every day in the majors, so he’s going to have to learn how to play second base, and make the outfield corners in order to make himself valuable.

Dozier had a very good first half in Class A Wilmington, then ran into trouble in Class AA Northwest Arkansas (.209/.303/.312 in 64 games). He will get an invitation to big-league camp this coming spring, but I doubt he’s ready to challenge Moustakas for the big-league job any time soon.

There has been some talk about shifting Dozier to right field. That may be explored next month when Dozier plays in the Arizona Fall League. But Moustakas hasn’t hit enough to prove he’s the long-term option at third base. The club should still be looking to upgrade there. If not for next year, when Moustakas will be a relatively affordable option in his first year of arbitration, then at least for 2016 and beyond.

I fly into San Francisco International Airport. I would advise you do the same. You can have a lovely trip in the Bay Area, and if you need to get to Oakland for a Wild Card game, you can always take the BART to the Coliseum.

My schedule is somewhat in flux right now. I have a ticket to see American Football in New York on Oct. 11. Not sure I’ll be able to make it.

My three favorite are “Heat,” “Nixon” and “Superbad.”


Like there was any other choice.

Mick Foley wrote many disparaging things about Ole as a booker, so I’m going with Arn. The spinebuster is one of the great finishers of that generation.

I would be fine if they turn Cena heel, and have Heyman turn on Lesnar (for at least the second time). That would be the only conceivable way to get the belt off Lesnar — considering he’s been booked as indestructible — and build up for a blow-off at Survivor Series. Especially if they want Lesnar to carry the title into Wrestlemania.

Here are three suggestions:

1. Big Country: “A Thousand Stars.”

2. The Blue Nile: “Tinseltown In The Rain.”

3. Idlewild: “In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction.”

“The Archers Bows Have Broken,” mostly for the lyric “You’re shouting so loud you barely enjoy this broken thing.” I’m still partial to the demo, incidentally.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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