May 7, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) singles during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A Look Back at the Deal That Brought Wil Myers to Tampa Bay

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 OdorizziMike 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.

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Tags: Jake Odorizzi James Shields Mike Montgomery Tampa Bay Rays Wade Davis Wil Myers

  • Lexi Ronson

    Davis could very well be a free agent at year’s end as well. The Royals have team options for the next 3 years at 7, 8, and 10 million respectively. There are only an handful of relievers in the game making 7 mil per year, and should Wade Davis be one of them? I think the Royals have a tough decision to make this offseason. He has been great this year, but on a $90 million payroll, can one really justify paying a setup man that kind of money, especially when they likely try to retain Shields?

    Greg Holland, the team’s closer, made $4.6 mil in his first year of arb. Next year, probably the $6.5 – $7.5 range? 15% of the team’s payroll will be devoted to 2 relievers. I hate the term “proven closer”, but “proven closers” are given more on the FA market than setup men. “Proven closers” also aren’t making what they used to in FA. I doubt Davis has any trade value, because team’s look at his save total (0) and then look at his salary.

    Shields is making roughly half of his market value. Davis is probably making more than his market value. So to me, does 7 years combined of Myers and Odorizzi at league minimum, plus 6 more years combined at salaries well below market value, equal 2 years of Shields and 2 years of Davis? The jury is still out, but I like the Rays chances of absolutely swindling the Royals, especially with the 2 wildcards (Montgomery and Leonard) excelling. Myers is just 23, and only 6 months older than Mark Appel, last year’s #1 overall pick. There’s time for improvement. Myers already has a ROY trophy in his bedroom though.

  • jimfetterolf

    From a KC POV, the knock on Myers in the minors was that he couldn’t hit off-speed stuff. He was also a poor defender in a small park. Most of his PCL homers would be loud outs in Kauffman Stadium. He had ceiling, but he was no Bryce Harper. Maybe Alex Gordon in four years, maybe Clint Hurdle. The K would have robbed his power and exposed his defense and David Lough, who got RF instead, matched Myers’ RoY fW of 2.4 while beating him handily in rW. Royals lost nothing last year.

    Jake Odorizzi had pitchability, but at Omaha he had trouble finishing five innings and that with 110 pitches. The second time PCL teams saw him he’ld get worked over. We had Ventura on the horizon and Duffy and Paulino coming back, so Jake had no future. If he was with the Royals now he’ld be in the minors, unable to crack a rotation even without Shields.

    Mike Montgomery was a sad case, incredible talent but couldn’t hit the strike zone. The injuries and maybe the way the Royals developed him pretty much ruined him. I wish him well, good kid.

    Shields has been Shields, exactly what the Royals needed as a bridge to Duffy, Ventura, maybe Zimmer or Sugar Ray Marimon next year. He’ll get a QO and everyone moves on.

    Davis dominates. His options will be executed as he’ll be cheaper than Greg Holland, and the Royals can afford both and be happy with effectively giving opposing teams only seven innings of offense. With Herrera it’s often just six innings.

    A question: Would the Rays have had a shot at the Series last year with Shields and Davis? Would they be as pathetic this year? Royals went from 72 to 86 wins and became a legitimate contender which is also in 1st place at the moment. So far the Royals won the Trade convincingly.

    • Christopher Scharaldi

      Spoken like a true KC homer. We get it your a royal fan

      • jimfetterolf

        Do you disagree with any of my points? Tampa hopes Myers can produce in the future and that Jake is more than a middle reliever. Hope is all you got, as you seem unaware of what the various players have done since the Trade.

  • Carl Brownson

    To say that the “only” thing differentiating their value is the fact Shields will be a free agent next year is so, so, so very misleading. That little detail adds up to the fact that the Rays will have five full years of Wil Myers from 2015-2019, while the Royals have zero of James Shields over that time. This is a crushing win for the Rays, no matter what Myers and Shields do this year.