Royals: Out on Shields, in on Santana and outfielders?

If the Royals lose out on James Shields — which is expected to be the case — there’s a possibility they could turn to a different former starter to help fill the void in the rotation.

Ervin Santana, who also received a qualifying offer this month (from the Braves), may be a better fit for Kansas City, who is likely to be priced out of a deal with Shields. Santana, 31, spent one season in KC, going 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 2013.

He received a qualifying offer after that season and turned it down, opting for free agency and held out until March 12 before signing on with the Braves. Despite all that waiting and deliberation last season, Santana is still expected to reject Atlanta’s qualifying offer before Monday’s deadline.

Regardless of whether they land Shields or Santana (or neither) the Royals are still likely to make a play for an outfielder, with Nori Aoki becoming a free agent. He could re-sign with Kansas City, and there’s a prevailing thought that the Royals may go after veteran Torii Hunter. Jon Heyman reports that Melky Cabrera (another former Royal, who received a QO from the Blue Jays) may also be a possibility.

— Joey Nowak

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