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Rays, Royals Trade Review: A Closer Look at the James Shields for Wil Myers Swap

On December 9th, the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals swung a trade involving some notable players. In the late evening, starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis were dealt to K.C. for outfielder Wil Myers, pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

The move added depth to a Royal starting rotation that appears to be trending upward, and the Rays continued a trend of raising homegrown talent and trading them for more young prospects.

How does this huge move help fantasy owners in 2013? Beyond? Kansas City adds starting pitching that helps an improving team that could very well win 80+ games in 2013. Tampa gets added farm system depth, and a potential offensive powerhouse that could break out as soon as 2013 with years of expected production to come. Let’s break down this trade for each team a little further.

Kansas City

The Royals took a risk with this move, going with a “win now” mentality despite being in a rebuilding stage for much of the last decade. Organizations value players differently. One player many teams covet and value is the workhorse, top of the rotation starting pitcher. James Shields has been a thoroughbred starter for a number of years. Since 2007, ‘Big Game James’ has won double-digit games and pitched 200+ innings in each season, according to Shields also has increased his strikeout total every season except 2012, where his K total went from 225 in 2011 to 223.

His 2010 season appears to have been an aberration. The ballooned ERA over 5.0 and WHIP of 1.46 have since leveled out. Shields is a must own starter in all fantasy formats. The Royals offense is still suspect, as young talents like Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer continue to find their ‘A’ games day in and day out. That is a situation Shields has been through before, as Tampa has been offensively challenged for years. Shields will get 12-16 wins, punch out around 180 hitters, and pitch far enough into games to get wins.  

The ‘X’ factor for K.C. is Wade Davis. Starter-turned-reliever is now expected to help anchor the improved rotation. After up-and-down efforts as a fifth starter from 2009-11, Davis excelled as a reliever, averaging a K per inning pitched, and had a solid 2.43 ERA, according to MLB. If Davis can find a way to avoid his career-long inconsistencies on the mound, he could be a starter to watch into the season. He may not win fantasy owners’ hearts immediately, but could be a nice addition to a rotation if he shows his promise as a starter from a few years back.

Tampa Bay

With prospect depth, comes prospect responsibility. The Tampa Bay Rays have lived off the fruit of their development labors for the past half decade. Acquiring three of Kansas City’s perceived top six prospects could be a sign of great scouting, or banking on youth to serve now and later. Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard will have different routes on the road to the big show.

Wil Myers was the coveted piece of the deal for Tampa. His 37 home runs in AA and AAA combined display his power potential, and scouts have praised Myers for his skills with a bat, as compiled on MLB. The 2012 #3 MLB prospect will be given a chance to earn the right field spot and spark an anemic offense. Dynasty league owners have probably snatched him up in 2012 drafts or via waiver wire. If you are in a start-up keeper/dynasty league, Myers is a must have player. A late round flyer in standard leagues is not a bad idea either if you are looking for a nice sleeper.

If Myers sticks with the Rays, it could be a sign that Myers could have finally put it all together, or that the offense is just as bad as many have come to expect in St. Petersburg.

Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery are two starters that will battle to earn a spot in the back end of the Rays’ rotation. Odorizzi get a sniff in the big leagues in 2012, losing one start. Montgomery has seen his stock fall as of late. After progressing well through the Royals minor leagues, Montgomery hit s bump in the road and was demoted from AAA to AA in 2012. If his command issues are worked on and corrected with Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey, Montgomery may be the steal of the trade. Until then, just keep Montgomery on your keeper radar, and avoid in regular leagues. Odorizzi has a better chance of making an impression in 2013, but it is hard to imagine him being anything more than a call-up if another starter is injured.

Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann hold the fate of Odorizzi and Montgomery’s futures as much as a good showing by the new acquisitions. Baseball fans got a decent sample size from Cobb in 2012, and Niemann has been in and out of the starting rotation the past few seasons. If one or both falter early in spring training, Odorizzi and Montgomery could get more serious looks by Tampa’s coaching staff.

Patrick Leonard played in his first pro season in 2012. The rookie ball alum is not in the Rays’ immediate plans, but could be a nice defensive player with some pop down the line, according to MLB scouts.

The immediate impact of the Tampa Bay/ Kansas City trade will be felt opening day 2013, but through minor league grooming (Myers, Odorizzi, and Montgomery) and long-term team control (Davis), this trade could also impact fantasy lineups for the next handful of seasons.

Written by Jeff Hicks for

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