It was almost a given that the Tampa Bay Rays would trade some of their rotation depth at some point during the offseason. The Kansas City Royals, who had been seeking help for their rotation, appeared to be a natural match for any potential trade. Last night, the much anticipated trade took place, as the Rays sent James Shields, Wade Davis, and either a player to be named or financial considerations to the Royals for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard.
For the Royals, this trade may turn them into instant contenders in a fairly weak American League Central. As the Royals have not been in the postseason since 1985, and have had only one winning season in the past 19 years, they needed to take a chance to re-energize their fan base. Sine the Royals starting rotation had a 5.01 ERA and pitched the third fewest innings in baseball in 2012, they desperately needed to upgrade their rotation. Shields provides the Royals with a potential ace, and has pitched over 200 innings in each of the past six years. Comparatively, the Royals have not had a starter pitch over 200 innings since 2010, in Zack Greinke‘s final year in Kansas City.
Shields also provides two other qualities that have been in short supply on the Royals in recent years: a reputation as a winner and postseason experience. With the Royals youth, and possible playoff aspirations, having someone like Shields who could be a calming influence may have greater benefits than what appears in the box score.
While the Rays may be gambling that Jeff Niemann can stay healthy, and that Jeremy Hellickson can continue to develop into an ace to replace Shields, this trade may still help Tampa this season. The Rays desperately needed another power bat in their lineup, and Myers may end up filling that role. Fresh off a season where he was named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America, Myers has the potential to be an impact player at the major league level. Myers also plays both center and right, where there are possible openings in the lineup. If he produces at all during Spring Training, Myers may well be in the Opening Day lineup for the Rays.
Likewise, Odorizzi is close to the majors, and even made two starts for the Royals last year. In fact, Odorizzi may also get a look during Spring Training for a spot in the rotation. While it is far too early to consider him a replacement for Shields, Odorizzi has a lot of potential, and may end up in the rotation in the near future.
The Rays needed an impact bat that they could control. The Royals needed a top of the rotation starter as they sought to return to relevance. Both teams picked up exactly what they felt they needed in this trade. Therefore, that makes this trade a winning proposition for both sides.