Royals, Rays Trade Review: A Closer Look at the James Shields Deal

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It’s finally happened.

The Royals and Dayton Moore have done something drastic. Something bold. Something that borders on the edge of sanity.

And something that they absolutely had to do.

Last night, right around 10 pm CT, the Royals acquired starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis along with a player to be named or cash from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for uber-prospect and Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

What the Royals get:

  • James Shields RHP (age 30, 7 seasons, 87-73, 19 complete games, 3.89 ERA, 3.68 K/BB, 1.223 WHIP, 17 WAR)
    • “Big Game” James has been the anchor of the Rays’ rotation throughout his seven years with the big league team. While many would not consider him an “ace”, Shields definitely has the track record to be the leader of nearly any big league pitching staff, as well as the numbers to back it up. Since his first full season back in 2007, he’s never pitched less than 200 innings (averaging 227 IP per season) and averages just under 200 K per season. He’s never spent any time on the DL, as his pitching motion is relatively natural and fluid for him. His fastball sits in the low-90s; but his changeup, thrown in the low 80s, is his one of the best in baseball. He also throws an above average cutter and a decent curveball. As it stands, the Royals currently have control of James for 2013 ($10.25 million) and 2014 ($12 million team option). He’s the type of pitcher that the Royals both covet and desperately need. In 2011, he finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting. In 2012, he was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and a 2.2 WAR. Over the past two seasons, only one pitcher has pitched more innings (477) than James Shields: Justin Verlander.
  • Wade Davis RHP (age 27, 4 seasons, 28-22, 3.94 ERA, 2.04 K/BB, 1.315 WHIP, 2.0 WAR)
    • Although he spent all of 2012 coming out of the bullpen, the Royals undoubtedly plan to use Wade Davis in the rotation. Before shifting to the bullpen, Davis was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and finished 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2009. In 2012, he made 54 appearances out of the bullpen, spanning across 70.1 innings, ammassing a 2.43 ERA, a 3.00 K/BB ratio, and a 1.4 WAR. He throws a low-mid 90s fastball (both four-seam and two-seam) and a spike curveball, as well as a slider and changeup. The Royals will have control of Davis through 2017 (’13: $2.8 million; ’14: $4.8 million; ’15: $7 million team option; ’16: $8 million team option; ’17: $10 million team option).

What the Rays get:

  • Wil Myers OF
  • Jake Odorizzi RHP
  • Mike Montgomery LHP
  • Patrick Leonard 3B

The Royals knew going into the offseason that, if they were going to acquire a top of the rotation starting pitcher, they were going to have to pay dearly for it. Afterall, one cannot acquire talent with out surrendering talent in return.

The Rays gained two of the top prospects in baseball in Myers and Odorizzi. Mike Montgomery’s well-documented struggles in 2011 and 2012 earned him a change of scenery. Patrick Leonard is a nice prospect, but the jury is still out on his potential.

Wil Myers will forever be remembered in Royals baseball lore as a ghost – only heard from but never seen in terms of the big league level. He’s the one that got away. He’s the one that said it’s not me, it’s you.

Jake Odorizzi will be remembered as “the key piece” in the Zack Greinke trade two years ago. A pitcher that proved himself in the minors, only to get two late-September starts for the Royals that left a lot to be desired. But, nonetheless, his comparisons to Zack Greinke will be enough for Royals fans to clammor about giving him up.

Mike Montgomery has struggled mightily over the past two seasons and has been basically given up on by the KC faithful.

Pat Leonard is still a relatively unknown prospect and is basically a throw-in by the Royals. He has some projectable power and will settle in at one of the four corner positions.

This trade signals that Dayton Moore and the Royals are looking for wins now.

The Royals are now at a time when the big league team needs to start producing wins on the field. Starting pitching has been this team’s Achilles heel for years. The Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985.

27 years for those needing further perspective.

They’ve had one winning season this century.

Dayton Moore’s reputation and future with the Royals will be determined by this trade. It is undoubtedly the biggest and boldest move he’s made during his tenure here in Kansas City. He’s taking this risk knowing full well that it could flop.

But it also could be the push that this team needs to contend in the AL Central.

This is the type of move that Royals fans have been waiting for. Are they generally happy with the price they paid for a “non-ace” pitcher plus another capable starter? No. But that comes with this city’s love for unproven commodities. Kansas City baseball fans have fallen in love with “potential” and are personally hurt to see Wil Myers go.

But this is a move that was going to happen. The writing has been on the wall for the past two offseasons. This was the time to strike. It may be considered a reach by some. But only time will tell who won this trade.

The Royals are going all-in for 2013.

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