|The Royals and Rays hooked up for a blockbuster trade that landed workhorse righthander James Shields in Kansas City and reigning Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers in Tampa Bay. Triple-A pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi, a righty, and Mike Montgomery, a lefty, also join the Rays organization, as does Rookie-ball third baseman Patrick Leonard. In addition to Shields, the Rays also acquired righthander Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash.
When the news broke of the blockbuster trade, the reaction almost broke Twitter.
Fans, particularly of the Royals, took to their phones and keyboards to register their displeasure, and many baseball analysts rushed to outdo each other in piling on to general manager Dayton Moore and to praise his Rays counterpart, Andrew Friedman.
Inside the game, the response is much more measured. In checking with six pro scouts, none saw the trade as one-sided, and all were convinced that the chorus of criticism of the Royals for making the deal is misplaced.
An AL Pro Scout: "I've gotta say—I think it's a good trade for both teams. And I really understand and like it for Kansas City. At some point, they have to try to win. They've done a great job adding young talent to their big league club but have just come up a bit short with pitchers. It's not an easy thing to do. They've acquired a present top-of-the-rotation veteran in Shields and a present fourth/fifth starter in Davis. These two guys will step right in and impact their rotation. I also like the fact that they gave up Mike Montgomery instead of (Yordano) Ventura. I have Ventura ahead of Montgomery and Odorizzi.
Tampa gets a great prospect in Myers but he isn't a sure bet yet. I think he's going to be a very good major league right fielder but still has some polishing off to do before he gets there. I like Odorizzi, but I don't think his ceiling is higher than that of Davis. And Davis is on a very good contract. Montgomery is a bit of a wild card but has to get back to where he was and he's never really been able to throw a breaking ball.
In the end, I think Tampa Bay did well in the players they got, but I think trading away Shields and the one guy (Davis) who had the best chance to help replace Shields' innings not already in the rotation really sets them back for 2013 with questions remaining for 2014 on. They're going to end up relying a lot on (Chris) Archer and Odorizzi as youngsters in the AL East the next few years. And will they be able to extend Price? So I understand it from both sides, but I think it's fair. And I really like it for Kansas City.
Another AL Pro Scout: "Kansas City's team is ready to roll. They just needed an ace and some starters. With Shields I think they can win the AL Central. Their everyday lineup is outstanding.
Wil Myers has chance to be a superstar-type player, a center fielder or right fielder hitting .300 with 25-plus home runs. Odorizzi is a fourth starter. Montgomery has some mechanical issues that need to be fixed but he will show you three potential plus pitches at any given time, and Leonard has big sock in his bat and profiles as a first base/third baseman.
The biggest thing is Dayton Moore needs to get over 500 this year to keep job. This deal may have helped him keep his job."
An AL Front-Office Executive: "I don't like the trade for KC, but I think the general reaction that this is the 'worst trade ever' is hyperbolic nonsense. The Royals are going to be better in 2013 with this trade, no doubt. But to judge the deal right now is silly. If the Royals make the playoffs and end nearly three decades of misery, it's worth it. If the prospects don't work out, then it's a good trade for KC. If the Royals win 81 games each of the next two years and Myers turns into an All-Star then it's a bad trade. All of those are within a realistic realm of possibility. To judge the deal right now with some sort of absolutism to an extreme is to simply exert a lot of energy to be part of the maddening crowd."
Another AL Front Office Executive: "It's a bold, fascinating baseball trade with layers of talent for both sides. Shields is an ace and his style, along with his work ethic permeates a clubhouse positively. Wade Davis is vastly underrated and should be able to start successfully going forward.
Wil Myers is a monster. Jake Odorizzi is an athletic, talented pitcher that is held in the same regard that Wade Davis was as a prospect four years ago. Montgomery has a huge arm with wobbly command that should transition to the bullpen reminiscent of when Matt Thornton got traded from Seattle to Chicago. Patrick Leonard has big power and profiles at third base or right field.
It's a creative transaction on many levels. Both sides accomplished what they wanted to achieve. Shields and Myers are the headliners of the deal, although the many layers and secondary pieces of this transaction have a strong percentage chance to impact as well. It's a fascinating, talent for talent, pure baseball trade."
Another AL Front-Office Executive: "I like it a lot for Kansas City. Here's the premise for why I think it was important for them. Wil Myers is not a major league ready impact bat, and might take a couple years of struggles burning into his major league service time, while Kansas City continues to toil around .500 and maybe Hosmer and Moose come into their own. Then they play in that mid-rotation market for guys like (Jeremy) Guthrie, (Ervin) Santana and even Odorizzi and then (Bruce) Chen/ (Jonathan) Sanchez types on the back-end with little or no chance of taking them to the next level.
For the people saying this is a desperate move on their part, what do they think Kansas City's window is? I think it's now, with a legit front-line horse like Shields and an absolutely stacked pen. I think they maximized Myers' value.
We've seen what the market is for frontline starting pitchers (Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee) and they can't play in that market. They trade a top prospect who isn't a sure thing even if you love him, and some replaceable pieces beyond that for no doubt above-average major league pieces in Shields and Davis.
The next two years are important, but my point is if they didn't make this trade they aren't winning with Guthrie and Santana leading the rotation, and they probably aren't winning next year either. Are they just supposed to sit around and wait a couple more years of losing and mediocrity?"
And one more AL Pro Scout: "I think it's a really good trade from Kansas City's standpoint. You have two proven guys that aren't making a lot of money. Now they don't have to overpay for Anibal Sanchez. I'd do that trade in a heartbeat. (The Royals) have to win. Who cares if the Omaha Storm Chasers are good for the next couple of years? They have to win at the varsity level at some point, don't they? I think it's a great trade for the Royals. Could it come back to bite you? Yeah, but if they don't win on TV, it doesn't matter. It's a winnable division.
"I think Montgomery will be really good with the (Rays). He'll have some growing pains, but he'll be really good maybe halfway through this year. I think Montgomery is the wild card that makes the trade interesting. I don't know if they gave up on Montgomery, but he's interesting. If he can become what he's supposed to become, that's what makes it really good. You'll see if it was the kid or the organization."
|Wil Myers, cf/rf
Age: 21. Born: Dec. 10, 1990 in High Point, N.C.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.
Career Transactions: Selected by Royals in third round of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 14, 2009.
The Royals have developed a premium power prospect in Mike Moustakas and a pure hitting prospect in Eric Hosmer in recent years. Myers has the chance to have some of the best attributes of both. Coming off of a Minor League Player of the Year award for his 37 home run season, Myers projects to be a plus hitter with plus power at the big league level. Defensively, he fits best in right field, where he should be average with a plus arm. He has played center field and third base in the past year, but he's a below average center fielder by most scouts' reports, and while he showed potential at third base, the Rays don't need help there with Evan Longoria signed to a long-term deal.
|Jake Odorizzi, rhp
Age: 22. Born: March 27, 1990 in Highland, Ill.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Highland (Ill.) HS.
Career Transactions: Selected by Brewers in supplemental first round (32nd overall) of 2008 draft; signed June 20, 2008 ... Traded by Brewers with RHP Jeremy Jeffress, SS Alcides Escobar and OF Lorenzo Cain to Royals for RHP Zack Greinke, SS Yuniesky Betancourt and cash, Dec. 19, 2010.
For Odorizzi, this is his second trade in the past two years, as he was dealt from Milwaukee to the Royals in the Zack Greinke trade during the offseason before the 2011 season. Odorizzi projects as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter because he doesn't have a clear out pitch. But he has success wherever he's gone because of his ability to use his four average pitches. His control is solid for a minor leaguer, but it will have to improve a tick if he's going to get out big leaguers.
|Mike Montgomery, lhp
Age: 23. Born: July 1, 1989 in Mission Hills, Calif.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200.
Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Hart HS, Newhall, Calif.
Career Transactions: Selected by Royals in supplemental first round (36th overall) of 2008 draft; signed June 16, 2008.
Montgomery has turned into the enigma of the Royals organization, and is someone who may benefit from a change of scenery. He had clashed with the Royals coaching staff in the past over differences in pitching philosophy and his long—toss program. While those differences were eventually largely ironed out, Montgomery's stuff and his results have gone backwards in the past two years. Where he once dominated hitters with a 92-95 mph fastball and a plus-plus changeup, his lack of control has come back to bite him at the upper levels. In attempting to throw more strikes, Montgomery has altered his release point and at times has seen his fastball dip to more of an average 89-92 mph offering. He's still looking to develop a consistent breaking ball. If he can improve his control, regain his velocity and develop a breaking ball, he could be a steal in this trade, but that's a very long and hefty to-do list.
|Patrick Leonard, 3b
Age: 19. Born: Oct. 20, 1992 in Katy, Texas.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: St. Thomas HS, Houston.
Career Transactions: Selected by Royals in fifth round of 2011 draft; signed Aug. 11, 2011.
Leonard was one of the Royals' most improved prospects in his first full pro season. A product of Houston's St. Thomas High, he was coached in high school by former Astros' great Craig Biggo. Leonard impressed Appalachian League observers with his power potential as well as his surprisingly polished defense at third base. He's cleaned up his swing to improve his ability to catch up to premium velocity. While Leonard was a long ways from the big leagues, he has a significant ceiling.
|James Shields, rhp
Age: 30. Remaining Commitment: $9 million for 2013, followed by $12 million club option ($1 million buyout) for 2014.
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.
|Wade Davis, rhp
Age: 26. Remaining Commitment: 2 years, $7.6 million, followed by three club options totaling $25 million for 2015-17 seasons.
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.