The Rays exercised the first of three club options on James Shields, who is coming off a remarkable bounceback season. The right-hander will be a relative bargain with a 2012 salary of $7.5 million, thanks to an innings-related escalator, and the possibility of an additional increase to $8 million based on where he finishes in the AL Cy Young voting.
The bigger question for the Rays will be whether they hang onto Shields, or if they will be overwhelmed by offers and consider dealing him. They could consider a multiplayer package similar to the one they received last year for Matt Garza. The Rays -- and others -- are looking ahead to Shields' $9 million for 2013 and his $12 million option for 2014.
The Rays also retained reliever Kyle Farnsworth, exercising his $3.3 million option. Farnsworth gave the Rays a solid 2011 season -- a 5-1 record, 2.18 ERA and 25 saves (in 31 chances) -- but was limited over the final two weeks and into the postseason by a tender elbow, pitching just four times after Sept. 10.
The option on catcher Kelly Shoppach was declined. The budget-conscious Rays couldn't justify a raise from $3 million to $3.2 million after the veteran hit only .176 with 11 homers, 22 RBI and a .607 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. However, the Rays did like his defense and game-calling enough that they would be interested in bringing him back as a lower salary, so it's expected they will maintain dialogue.