Dayton Moore Sells His Soul to the Rays
Late Sunday night, news broke that the Rays had sent James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for a package built around Wil Myers. The Royals received Shields, Davis, and a PTBNL, while the Rays acquired Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, as well as 3rd base prospect Patrick Leonard. In the short-term, this move is greatly beneficial to the Royals, but they give up on quite a bit for the long-term.
The Royals rotation now looks like this heading into 2013:
1. James Shields (2012 WAR: 4.3)
2. Jeremy Guthrie (1.3)
3. Ervin Santana (-0.9)
4. Wade Davis (1.4)
5. Bruce Chen (1.3)
Over the last 2 seasons, Shields has been among the best pitchers in baseball. Since 2011, Shields has averaged 238 innings pitched, a 3.15 ERA, and a 120 ERA+ while striking out nearly a batter per inning. His 9.2 wins above replacement ranks 5th among all American League pitchers over that span. He is a top-notch starting pitcher, and gives the Royals the type of guy they’ve been lacking since they shipped Zack Greinke off to Milwaukee.
Wade Davis is a strong arm who is electric in the bullpen, and has a chance to be a mid-rotation type starter. Davis has pitched 2 full seasons in the big leagues, two as a starter (2010 & 2011) and one as a reliever (2012). In his two seasons as a starter Davis was merely average, profiling as a number 4 or 5 type starter. Last season, the Rays moved him to the bullpen and he quickly became among the best relief pitchers in baseball. He pitched over 70 innings in relief for Tampa in 2012 while striking out well over a batter per inning. As a starter, Davis’s fastball sat in the 91-93 range, but as a reliever it sped up to the 93-95. Kansas City reportedly wants to put him back in the rotation, which I think is a good move, especially considering their bullpen depth.
This deal certainly provides an upgrade over their 2012 rotation, and with their already strong bullpen and offense, they should be contenders next season. This also gives the Royals added rotation depth as Luke Hochevar is still on the team (surprisingly), and both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino should return mid-season from injuries.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with this deal for the Royals. One, they give up a considerable amount of talent and financial flexibility for 2 years of James Shields, and 5 of Wade Davis. Kansas City is not a big market team, and losing a combined total of 24 years of player control at a relatively low-cost is a big blow to them. Two, they are going to have a hard time finding a playoff spot in 2013. The Tigers are a strong bet to repeat as AL Central champions, and the White Sox look like contenders as well, leaving little room for the Royals. The AL has roughly 11 teams (including the Royals) that could compete for a playoff spot in 2013, and while anything can happen, Kansas City is still a longshot as of right now. You can’t blame Dayton Moore for making this move, as his job was likely on the line, and ownership was probably pushing for the team to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 1985. From the business aspect of this, Kansas City does great as Shields will fill seats and help KC field a winning team, but from a baseball perspective, its relatively underwhelming.
For the Rays, they gain the potential middle-of-the-order bat they have been looking for to pair up with Evan Longoria. Myers is easily one of the top 10 prospects in the game, and was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year award winner this season after hitting .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs in 134 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. He projects as a potential All-Star caliber player, hitting for strong averages with plenty of home runs and solid defense in right field. The Rays are rich with pitching, and Myers give them the potential impact bat they lack in their farm system.
Jake Odorizzi is a potential work-horse that could end up as a number 3 starter, but is more likely to become a strong staple in the back-end of a contender’s rotation. He is major league ready at this point, and will likely compete with Chris Archer and Alex Cobb for the last spot in the Rays’ 2013 rotation. Montgomery, a former top prospect who has seen his stock drop significantly over the last 2 years, is a reclamation project for Tampa, as the Rays are noted for their ability to develop pitching. Patrick Leonard is a solid third base prospect who John Sickels has noted as a strong sleeper prospect for next season.
Overall, this deal is great for Tampa. It hinders them slightly in the short-term, but long-term, this has the potential to be a pivotal trade for the Rays as they try to keep their string of success going.
Indirectly, this move has to be a loss for the Rangers as they lost their top two pitching targets (Greinke and Shields) over a period of roughly 24 hours. It’s hard to tell what direction they will head in pitching-wise now, but I fully expect them to add an outfield bat by either retaining Josh Hamilton or trading for Justin Upton.
You can follow Justin Millar on twitter at @justinmillar1, or email him at Justinmillar1@gmail.com. Comment below to join the discussion.