We are in the second year of the Wil Myers Experience and enough time has passed to begin evaluating the trade the made him a Tampa Bay Ray. The trade:
Tampa Bay Rays trade James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later (Elliot Johnson) to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard.
With time, one can play armchair GM and analyze the trade more in-depth. The biggest pieces, as far as the Rays and Kansas City were concerned, were Wil Myers and James Shields. In his rookie season, Myers won the Rookie of the Year and made the rest of baseball question Kansas City’s sanity. In 88 games, Myers slashed a .293/.354/.478 line with an .831 OPS. Whereas his rookie year, Rays’ management and fans thought they pulled off the biggest robbery since the Chicago Cubs felt Lou Brock wasn’t going to be much of a player, Myers’ second season has been a cold dose of reality. Shields, meanwhile, has emerged as the ace of the Royals’ staff. He has put up typical Shields numbers while posting a 21-12 record. More so, the Royals have felt Shields’ real value lies in his ability to mentor young pitchers, particularly Yordano Ventura. Well known for his work ethic and humility, the Royals are hoping these will, in no small way, rub off on the rest of their staff.
Wil Myers is no slouch, though. As much as he has struggled this year, his OPS is higher than Royals sluggers Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler, plus only marginally worse than Eric Hosmer. Clearly, Myers would still be a welcome edition in their line-up and every team no matter who loves the value James Shields brings. The only thing that may differentiate their value is that 2017 is Myers’ first year of arbitration eligibility while Shields will be a free agent next year.
Jake Odorizzi and Wade Davis are the second tier of the trade and an interesting comparison. Davis wanted to start and that wasn’t going to happen in Tampa. The Royals started him in the rotation but found he was better suited in the bullpen. In 30 innings this season, Davis has 1.34 FIP and .857 WHIP. He has become their setup man and, if the Royals can convince Davis to accept his role as a reliever, it is not much of a stretch to think he will eventually move into the closer role. Jake Odorizzi will define the balance of this trade. An inconsistent 2-7 this year, there is nevertheless a lot to like about him. He has 81 strikeouts in 70.1 innings, despite not being a hard thrower. The problem is, Odorizzi has failed to go five innings in four of his fourteen starts this season. As well, it is somewhat concerning that the deeper Odorizzi goes into games the more hittable he becomes. Pitches 1-30, hitters are only hitting .173 but, pitches 31-60, hitters are mashing a .376 average. Still, this is Odorizzi’s rookie year and you can’t help being optimistic that, as he goes on, Odorizzi will iron out his mistakes. He also has a 3.38 ERA in his last eight starts, showing that he already beginning to adapt.
In fourteen starts this year, Mike Montgomery is 8-1, coincidentally with a 3.38 ERA as well. He is starting to find consistency in Durham, going 5-0 in his last seven starts with a 2.44 ERA. The former first-round pick of the Royals has walked nine and struck out 38 in that time frame, showing flashes of the form that made him one of the top prospects in baseball. It is still too early to believe he will see much time in the majors just yet, besides maybe a September call-up. If this consistency remains, though, there is no doubt he will be given a look in spring training. The other piece, Patrick Leonard is big and can hit. With the Charlotte Stone Crabs, he has a .578 slugging and .964 OPS. He is not talked about as much–understandable given that he is much farther from the big league–but he seems to have a major upside. Leonard is another piece that, when it is all said and done, could tip the trade in the Rays’ favor.
Right now, it’s too difficult to say who got the best of this trade. Will Wil Myers be a dominant offensive force? Did the Rays overrate him? Can Jake Odorizzi develop into a number two or three starting pitcher? Will James Shields’ presence pay off as a mentor to the Royals young pitchers even after he is gone? Can Wade Davis transition into a closer? I guess we’ll have to keep watching and see what will transpire.