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

Why Do the Rays Want More Than Wil Myers From the Royals for James Shields?

We’ve talked way too much about a trade between the Rays and Royals involving James Shields and Wil Myers here at RCG. In a previous article, we concluded that the Rays should pursue Myers, but only within reason. But coming out of the Winter Meetings, we heard that a deal between the Rays and Royals never fell into place because the Rays wanted more than Myers for Shields. That leads to a question that has to be asked: when push comes to shove, will the Rays agree to do a straight Shields-Myers one-for-one trade if it comes to that?

By now, you know the players involved. Shields is a durable starter who has been great the last two seasons and is under contract for two more years at contract figures the Rays are not sure they want to pay. Myers, an outfielder, is the top prospect in baseball with big-time bat speed and power but also has never played in the major leagues and struck out 140 times last year at Triple-A. Shields may not be an ace but is an outstanding number two starter who the Rays could potentially replace without much of a hitch. Myers may be unproven but he has superstar upside and could be ready for the big leagues immediately. The Rays have pitching and desperately need more offense, and Myers gives them a chance for a middle-of-the-order bat for years. Obviously the Rays wanting more than Myers could be just a negotiating tactic, but what could possibly hold the Rays up from doing the outright Shields-Myers trade?

Right now, Shields is the antithesis of Myers. He’s a proven veteran the Rays know they can depend on. Does it really make sense for the Rays to trade a player like that for a prospect who may be as promising they come but also features enormous risk? We can take it almost for granted that James Shields will manage an ERA between 3.00 and 4.00 (likely closer to 3.00) with over 220 innings each season for the Royals in 2013 and 2014 if he’s traded to them. Myers could be a superstar by the time Shields is a free agent- or he could have failed to adjust to major league pitching, eliciting nonstop criticism from the media over the Rays trading the most dependable pitcher in their history for a risky prospect. If the Rays were trading Shields primarily for salary relief, then it wouldn’t matter quite as much how Myers did- but they’re not. They’re trying to win, and if trading for Shields hinders them from doing that in the long-term, they’ll be regretting the trade for a long time. If they’re going to trade Shields for somewhat of an unknown commodity, they want to receive other assets in return to increase their chances of coming out ahead moving forward. The Rays love upside and acquiring Myers would be almost entirely based on that. But if they’re going to give up a player they’ve been able to count on for so long, they would like to get other players in the trade as a safety net knowing that everything could very well go wrong with Myers.

So would the Rays do the trade? I can’t see them turning it down- you don’t see players like Myers on the trade block very often and it’s a golden opportunity for them a turn a decaying asset in Shields, who will be a free agent in two years, for a player who could be a central piece of their team for a long time. I don’t think the Rays do the straight swap, getting a little insurance on Myers by acquiring a decent low minors pitching prospect in addition to him, but no matter how much trepidation the Rays have at a Shields-Myers trade, at the end of the day how could they possibly pass it up? The Rays would love to get Myers and more from Shields. However, they can’t be so concerned about the possibility for failure in a Shields-Myers trade that they lose out on a player they never in their wildest dreams thought they would have the opportunity to acquire.

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Tags: James Shields Kansas City Royals Tampa Bay Rays Wil Myers

  • Michael Engel

    The question that Royals fans who LOVE the idea of this trade (there are some) that isn’t coming up is why are the Rays seemingly so willing to part with Shields and (reportedly) Hellickson (or at least he’s the next most available)?

    From Tampa’s standpoint, I can’t see why they’d turn down a 1-1 deal. They have plenty of pitching after losing Shields and he’s the oldest on staff. If he were 27 and they were piecing together the #4 and #5 starting spots with fringe guys, that’d be different.

    I concede that we don’t know what Myers will be at the big league level because, obviously, he hasn’t been there yet. But among all of the Royals prospects, from day one, he was considered to have one of the best hitting approaches in the organization. He knows the strike zone and he’s a mature hitter. This from a guy coming out of high school. He killed short season ball right after signing, hit well in 2010, struggled in 2011 with an infection but crushed the AFL too. Then he made a conscious adjustment to pull more, be more aggressive and stand more upright to get more backspin because he wanted more homers in Triple A in 2012 and hit 37. Yeah, he could bust, but he profiles as a heady, talented player. If he gets anywhere near average to good defensively, even on the corner, his arm gives him added value.

    This is why I don’t want to trade him. Myers is for real. The second any suggestion of “Myers and…” comes up, the Royals should hang up. But they won’t.

    Just do me a favor…when you get Myers and he anchors the middle of the lineup for the next 6+ seasons, every now and then, give us suffering Royals fans an encouraging word as a means of thanking us. That’s not too much to ask is it?

    • Robbie_Knopf


      In any event, I can’t see the Rays turning down a Shields for Myers swap. I know they’re all analytic and everything, but if they over-think this and let it fall through, they could be the ones kicking themselves for the next six years.

      • Michael Engel

        He’s good, and yeah, it may be my Royal-blue colored glasses, but I think he’s just not moveable for Shields. I really like Shields, too. But only two years of him…and even to extend him, he’d be getting into is mid-30s…just smells like a trap for the Royals.

        Shields could probably throw 225 a year for 5-6 more years and be solid, but there’s a good chance something falls apart – he’s a pitcher. that’s just what they do. And when Myers is a cost-controlled player who should be productive, I’m not sure why the penny-pinching Royals would even consider it, unless they’re just desperate to get a good pitcher at almost any price.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.nereim Jason Nereim

    I’ve been saying from the beginning I could see it being Myers, a reliever and a C+ prospect. Said reliever could take Davis’ spot in the bullpen and allow them to trade him or move him into the starting rotation.