Could a Rays-Royals Blockbuster Possibly Happen?

The Rays and Royals are a pair of polar-opposite organizations. The Rays have done a major franchise turnaround on have been one of the best teams in baseball the past five years while the Royals have yet to take their next step as a franchise. Another opposite is that while the Rays organization is stacked with pitching, the Royals’ system features plenty of talented young hitters. The Rays need to find some way to generate more offense to continue to compete in the tough AL East while the Royals think that they may be just a pitcher or two away from being playoff contenders themselves. Could the two teams be the perfect match for a blockbuster trade that could give both teams exactly what they need?

Not just once, but twice, Buster Olney has linked the Rays and Royals together as possible trade partners. When Olney mentions something once, you listen- when he mentions it twice, you kinda have to check it out. The Royals have a couple of promising corner infielders in Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both former top prospects but neither of which has lived up to the hype yet in the big leagues. Hosmer and Moustakas are two players the Royals would love to hold onto, but for the sake of filling the team’s major need, starting pitching, they may be tempted enough to deal them. On the Rays end, they feature plenty of starting pitching depth, featuring as many as 11 starting pitchers, and they have key questions coming on their top two starters, James Shields and David Price, both of whom are getting very expensive by the Rays’ standards. For their entire rotation, it seems to be a waste to have so many starting pitchers when trading at least a couple of them could provide the team with much more value than keeping them all. Could a trade of one of the Royals’ young bats for a couple of the Rays’ starting pitchers actually materialize? What would it look like?

A week and a half ago, Marcus Meade of Kings of Kauffman suggested and I refuted a Billy Butler for Matt Moore trade. That trade makes no sense because Moore is the one Rays starting pitcher who is untouchable because 1) he has enormous potential that was evident during his rookie year and 2) he’s signed to an extremely team-friendly contract, and also because Butler makes too much money for the Rays to take on. But a trade where either Shields or Price or a couple of the Rays’ lower tier starters heads to Kansas City could be a possibility. Let’s run through a bunch of scenarios.

Tampa Bay Rays trade RHP James Shields, RHP Chris Archer, and RHP Alex Colome to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for 1B Eric Hosmer and RHP Yordano Ventura.

The Royals get their topflight starter, another pitcher in Archer who has even higher upside and debuted in the majors in 2012, and another pitcher with lofty potential in Colome who is also not far from the big leagues for the first baseman the Rays desperately need and a promising but risky starter to help refurbish the Rays’ pitching depth. Would the Rays be willing to trade three starting pitchers in one trade? Would the Royals be willing to trade Hosmer (or Moustakas) even for such a package?

Tampa Bay Rays trade LHP David Price to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for 3B Mike Moustakas, OF Bubba Starling, and RHP Jake Odorizzi.

Price’s trade value is sky-high right now after a Cy Young-caliber season, and the Royals would have to give up an awful lot to get him. The Rays aren’t dying to trade Price for at least another year, and if they were to trade him, it would only be for the type or package that would make the Royals squirm. A big league player and two upper-echelon prospects for Price? That seems excessive, but it would have to be a package like that for the Rays to accept.

Tampa Bay Rays trade LHP David Price and RHP James Shields to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for 3B Mike Moustakas, 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Wil Myers, and RHP Jake Odorizzi.

Uhhh, I don’t think so.

Tampa Bay Rays trade RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Wade Davis, and RHP Chris Archer in exchange for 1B Eric Hosmer.

The Royals don’t get a pitcher who qualifies as any sort of ace right now, but they get possibly three good mid-rotation starters who can help them right now or two starters and an overpowering reliever. But would the Royals be willing to deal Hosmer or Moustakas for that?

The Rays and Royals are, in theory, possible trade partners. But any trade scenario with the slightest chance of happening sounds questionable for one if not both of the teams involved, and if a trade really happens, both teams will be ripped relentlessly by analysts and by their respective fan bases because you just don’t see trades like this happen. You don’t trade young, promising corner infielders and you don’t trade true ace pitchers with this much time left on their contracts. If a trade happens, it will be explosive and controversial. It may just happen, but it’s impossible to predict how a trade like this would possibly work.

Topics: David Price, Eric Hosmer, James Shields, Kansas City Royals, Mike Moustakas, Tampa Bay Rays

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  • Matthew Robison

    This is a potential deal. The royals won’t get rid of mike or Eric. Tampa trades James shields to the royals for jake odorizzi, and Aaron crow

    • Robbie_Knopf

      That might be a fair trade, and I don’t think the Royals trade Moustakas or Hosmer either, but the problem is that the Rays really need to get a strong hitter in return for Shields and outside of Hosmer and Moustakas, it doesn’t look like the Royals have good enough players to offer. The Rays and Royals seem like a trade fit in theory, but it would be shocked if any significant trade happens between the two teams this offseason.

  • DL

    I’m sorry but I’ve seen two posts on this and it makes me wonder how much you really know about the Rays. The Rays rarely trade a pitcher and if they do, they never trade two or more in the same trade. The Rays will not be giving up 6 cost-controlled seasons of Chris Archer along with Hellickson or Shields. Shields is enough trade value on his own for a good hitter. In all honesty, Shields for Butler makes the most sense. It lines up financially and if we are talking about best pure hitters available in the off-season, Butler would be at the top of the list. It’s time to get realistic on your trade offers if you want anyone who reads your articles to take you seriously.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      Thanks for questioning my knowledge of the Rays. It makes me feel great.

      The emphasis in this post is that the trade packages do sound so ridiculous because you don’t see trades including young, promising infielders like Hosmer and Moustakas, and the Rays’ only real assets in a trade are their pitchers and the fact that they would have to offer multiple pitchers to make a trade like this happen makes a deal extremely unlikely to materialize.

      Your Shields for Butler deal makes no sense because Shields has much more trade value than Butler considering Butler is a horrific defensive player who would have to be a regular designated hitter even with the Rays’ glaring need at first base. Maybe insert a pitching prospect or two and the Rays would start thinking about it, but they’re a pitching and defense team at their core and Butler goes squarely against that.

      And by the way, you’re overrating Chris Archer’s value. He had a few great starts in the major leagues and put together a solid season at Triple-A in 2012 but scouts are still extremely worried about his ability to throw strikes and his changeup has never really developed, giving him too high a chance of ending up in the bullpen long-term and he could even be enigmatic there. If it took trading Archer to land a premium player, the Rays wouldn’t hesitate.

      I will acknowledge that I underrated Hellickson’s trade value in this post. Him and Davis or Archer for Hosmer might be a fair trade- but I don’t think either side would do it because the Royals really don’t want to trade Hosmer and the Rays will have the be blown away to trade Hellickson right now.