What's next for the Kansas City Royals?

Two key Royals players, James Shields and Billy Butler, are expected to hit the free-agent market. USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals' immediate concern will be the impending free agency of both right-handed pitcher James Shields and DH/1B Billy Butler.

The team has said all the right things about Shields, that it would like him back and will make a sincere effort to bring him back. However, the Royals also know that financially there's really no way to make it work. The bottom line is that Shields has pitched his last game for the Royals. The franchise took a lot of heat for its blockbuster deal to acquire him, but without him, Kansas City never would have made it to the World Series.

The Royals do have a chance of retaining Butler, but that might not be as easy as they think.