James Shields James Shields

Offseason Central: James Shields to Kansas City


The button finally got pushed on the long-rumored James Shields for Wil Myers trade. Wil Myers will be going to Tampa Bay, James Shields will be going to Kansas City – but that’s not all. The Royals are also getting swingman Wade Davis – who is quite probably good enough to make their rotation out of camp. Even if Davis doesn’t, the Royals saw what can happen when you don’t have enough rotation depth last year. The two pitchers that the Royals are getting have undeniable value: Shields has 9.2 Fangraphs WAR and 31 wins over the last 2 seasons. Wade Davis was great out of the Rays ‘pen last year – with a 2.43 ERA and 11 Ks per 9 – and also started 58 games for them in 2010-2011.

July 10, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; USA outfielder Wil Myers drives in a run with a ground out during the 2011 Futures Game at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the Rays got Wil Myers who was the Royals top prospect and one of the game’s best: an offense-first catcher turned offense-first corner outfielder. It remains to be seen exactly how the Rays will use him, positionally speaking, but he’s likely to be a cheap offensive force as early as 2013. Giving up Myers is a serious loss for the Royals, who will now be more or less stuck continuing to start Jeff Francoeur every single day whether they like it or not.

That’s not actually what makes this trade strange – for the Royals – though… KC didn’t just give up Myers, they gave up three more prospects. One of those was 19-year-old A-ball third baseman Patrick Leonard, who did have himself a fine season after going in the 5th round of last year’s draft and the other was AAA flop (but former top prospect) Mike Montgomery. If anyone can resurrect Montgomery (who did basically what Andrew Oliver did upon reaching AAA) it’s the Rays… not so interesting, right? Filler. Well, they also threw in Jake Odorizzi – probably their #1 pitching prospect at this point. A lot of folks seemed to think Odorizzi would get a mid-season call up and be a part of the Royals 2014 rotation from day 1. The Royals aren’t just dealing from positions of strength to fill positions of weakness – which is what the Rays are doing and what all low-budget teams with great farm systems have to do to compete. The Royals are going all in… They aren’t trying to make minor moves to fill in the gaps where their organizational guys aren’t ready yet, they’re giving up on or getting rid of those organizational guys while they assemble Voltron.

As I mentioned a week ago or so: if the Royals swung the Myers for Shields trade, I’d have them projected as an 87-win team. Now they also got Davis – and I’ll have them projected as an 88 win team. That is an odd quest to be on for Dayton Moore, because the 2013 Tigers look like a 96-win team… the 2015 Tigers? They don’t look like anything to be worried about… and now I’m not entirely sure that the Royals will either.