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James Shields

(Not So Instant) Trade Analysis: James Shields to the Kansas City Royals

Tampa Bay Rays get: OF Wil Myers, SP Jake Odorizzi, SP Mike Montgomery, 3B Patrick Leonard

Kansas City Royals get: SP James Shields, SP/RP Wade Davis

“This could be the deal that brings Moore’s time in Kansas City to an end”–Keith Law, ESPN

“Hell yeah this was a desperate trade. More than a quarter-century of irrelevance tends to foster desperation.”–Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
“The Royals got owned on this one,” said an NL executive, who marveled at Friedman’s huge haul of young talent.”–Jerry Cranick, ESPN.com
Just three out of hundreds of opinions that suggested that the James Shields-centered trade from late Sunday night was nothing more than a heist for the Tampa Bay Rays. In many ways, how could you argue that? The Kansas City Royals look like Randy Travis–a drunk, pantsless victim of larceny.
The Rays dealt a fine, fine pitcher, who’s averaged 33 starts, 222 innings, a 3.80 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP for the past six seasons. He’s an extremely healthy player, especially considering that he’s such a prolific strikeout artist, sitting down 7.8 batters per nine innings. Shields placed third in Cy Young voting last season, which combined with this season, count as a great right-hander settling into his prime. He’s started 33 games each of the past two seasons, with a 3.15 ERA, 8.5 Ks per nine, a 3.64 SO/BB ratio and giving up just 403 hits in 477 innings pitched. In other words, Shields has emerged into a rotation work horse, capable of taking on big innings matched with premium results. He’s not a bonified “ace”, but he’s close.
His fellow ex-Ray Davis isn’t a slouch either. As a starter, he averaged 176 innings and 29 starts over two seasons, throwing 4.27 ERA ball, with a 1.36 WHIP. However, his fatal flaw was that in stretching his arm out, he hardly struck anyone out, with a paltry 5.6 Ks per nine innings. Davis was converted to a reliever last year with much deadlier results–70 innings, 2.43 ERA, 87 strikeouts to only 29 walks and a remarkable 1.09 WHIP. Going forward, Davis is probably better off as a reliever, though his contract makes him paid as a starter. It’d probably be a mistake to put Davis “out of position” to “justify” activating his three team options after 2014 (for $7, $8 and $10 million), but the Royals currently plan to have Davis start. Perhaps his true destination is to end up at closer, but for now, he’ll hit the mound every five days.
Kansas City probably got better with this deal in the short term, though if Odorizzi blossoms this year into an above average young starter and Wil Myers turns into the second coming of Andruw Jones (though hopefully a better ending), it could be up for debate. In my mind, Tampa got the better end of the deal, with two premium prospects, one of which seems like a sure thing to be an impact player in the Majors, as well as two other young players whose ceilings rank them as every day major leaguers. When trading a proven, work horse arm like Shields, the Rays certainly did well. They were dealing from a place of strength in the organization, and Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Alex Torres or any number of starters could come in and fill Shields role–this season just in innings, but perhaps next in performance as well.

In many ways, this feels like the trade of two years of Mark Texeira back in 2007 to the Atlanta Braves, where the Rangers got a young Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz as their bounty. KC man

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