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Monday, December 10, 2012

Breaking down the Royals-Rays trade

My friend and former blog contributor Taylor asked me to give my take on the trade. I thought it'd make a pretty nice blog post too so I've pasted what I said.

Ok, here's the deal:

Royals get James Shields (2 yrs $21 million) and Wade Davis (4 yrs, still pre-arbitration) plus a player to be named/cash.

Rays get: #1 prospect Wil Myers, middling prospect SP Mike Montgomery, SP prospect Jake Odirizzi, and 3B Patrick Leonard.

Let's start with the Rays. 
  • Wil Myers should immediately start in RF for them. He is the #1 hitting prospect in baseball and even if he doesn't hit for a high average, he has good power and will be a very good player.  
  • Jake Odorizzi was probably the first or second best pitching prospect for the Royals. They must not have much faith in him contributing right away or else he would not have been included in this deal.  Tampa probably gives him a shot to win the #5 starter spot in spring training with becoming a #3 starter being his eventual ceiling.
  • Mike Montgomery was regarded as the Royals top pitching prospect two seasons ago but since then he's been pretty mediocre or hurt.  He's your classic throw in to a big trade like this where the acquiring team hopes a new coaching staff can help him out of his funk. Boom or bust here.
  • Leonard could turn out to be a real steal. He's got a ton of power but right now has trouble making consistent contact.  However, he's only in low A ball and you can't really predict how he'll turn out. He's still too far away.
  • Essentially Tampa knew they needed hitting help and had excess pitching so calling up the Royals for Myers is a move that makes too much sense.
Now for the Royals:
  • James Shields is 31 years old and is an above average pitcher. He is not an ace. He can win 15+ games for  you and pitch 200+ innings. But remember, Tampa is a pitcher's park and the Rays had the best defense in the majors last year. Those definitely helped his numbers.  However, whose spot does he take in the rotation? Bruce Chen? He's a significant upgrade over what they had but he'll only be around for two years.
  • Wade Davis is a guy who the Rays moved to the pen because he was really struggling as a starter. Apparently last year he ironed some things out and many people believe he deserves another shot as a starter. As a reliever he's very good and could work anywhere from long relief to closer.  As a starter he's probably a #4 guy at best - which isn't bad! #4 Starters get $8-12 million dollar contracts these days.
  • This trade makes me think the Royals were really frustrated with their inability to trade or sign a front line starter this off-season.  Giving up Wil Myers isn't inherently bad; it's just that they gave up a lot with him for someone who is not an ace.  Now Jeff Francoeur is locked in as the starting RF for another season when it's possible just promoting Myers and cutting ties with Frenchy (the worst position player in the AL last season) would have yielded the same improvement as trading for a new starter.  That's the gut punch.
  • The silver lining in all of this is that Wil Myers is not a slam dunk. No prospect is.  All the hype around him is speculative but I'm convinced he's already better than Jeff Francoeur. And with the AL Central a toss up every year the Royals struck while the iron is hot so they can actually try to win now for once.
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