The Rays exercised James Shields' $7.5MM option, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Shields would not have been eligible for free agency if the Rays had declined the option. Instead, Tampa Bay would have gone to arbitration with Shields and he would have obtained a salary in excess of $7.5MM.
Picking up Shields' option was an easy decision, even for the low-payroll Rays. The right-hander posted a 2.82 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 249 1/3 innings in 2011, leading the league with 11 complete games and four shutouts. He would have extremely high trade value, though Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has said he wants to preserve Tampa Bay's pitching depth.