For the first time that I can remember, the Royals are putting together their best hand and going “All In”. When the news first broke, I was in shock. The last thing I wanted to do was overpay for pitching, which I felt like we did. However, when it’s proven time and time again that this organization cannot develop pitching, they’re pretty much forced to do just that. In that regard, I’m coming to terms with this deal and accepting it more and more as I let some time pass from the initial announcement.
Our return of this blockbuster deal, netted us a solid frontline starter and a solid bullpen arm who could be a bit of a project to produce as a number three or number four down the road. Big Game James Shields is the best starting pitcher this team has seen since Zack Greinke. In 2011, he was an All-Star and took third in the American League Cy Young balloting. He wasn’t quite as strong in 2012, but he still threw over 200 innings for the 6th straight season. One thing is certain, we can count on Shields to be out there every fifth day as he’s started 33 games in each of the past five seasons.
Wade Davis will be the wild card in this deal for a few years to come. I believe we know what we have in Shields, but Davis is definitely a question mark. As a reliever last season he struck out 87 hitters in just over 70 innings of work. He’s had solid years as a starter for the Rays, as he’s collected double digit wins in both his seasons as a full time starter. His contract is very favorable to the Royals and if he can be a solid three or four starter, then this trade can be viewed as a definite win for the Royals. Of course, that’s a very big if. I am very optimistic that Davis will stick in the rotation, mainly because I don’t know what he would do out of the bullpen. One thing that should happen as a result of this trade is finally push Luke Hochevar out of the rotation, at least I hope it does.
To land quality, established, front line pitching, one must give up talent as well. The Royals certainly did just that, as they gave away three highly touted prospects. The most notable being Baseball America’s current Minor League Player of the Year, Wil Myers. Myers is certainly capable of being a perennial All-Star as he crushed Double-A and Triple-A pitching in 2012 and has a great track record of hitting during his years spent in the minors. However, he could also be a flop as some other coveted Royals prospects never amounted to much at the Major League level. We all remember Mark Quinn and Dee Brown. With Myers’ value the highest it has ever been, the Royals capitalized and received two great arms in return. Personally, I would have loved getting Price in return or perhaps Hellickson and Shields together, but Davis and Shields drastically changes our major league rotation for the better.
The Rays also received the Royals best pitching prospect in Jake Odorizzi. I’m not sold on the fact that Jake Odorizzi will be an elite pitcher or even a number two or three for that matter. I think it speaks volumes that he was a first round draft pick, and yet two teams have already traded him away. I think his ceiling equates exactly to a Wade Davis type and Davis has already been proven in the big leagues, as a solid reliever and an average starter. In that part of the trade, I believe we made out just fine.
Mike Montgomery is a very intriguing guy for me. It is clear he just is not getting it right now. A change of scenery and a new organization has me believing he can turn himself into a very serviceable starter or solid lefty bullpen arm for several years. Just remember he’s only 23 years old, and the Rays have a history of developing young pitching. I didn’t want to see him go, but for him to be successful he would have to eventually leave this organization and I would like for him to succeed.
So, what does this all mean? Simply put, the Royals are making a conscious effort to push for the playoffs. That is the main reason why I have reached my peace with this move. I think I’m just so used to being a fan of a team that is always the one receiving prospects, that it just caught me off guard. Once I realized that we might actually have a serviceable rotation top to bottom, it kind of got me really excited for this coming season to start. I do not think the front office’s work is done by any means. If the organization wants to go all in and commit to winning, I think there is room for one more additional quality starter. I don’t want to put a label on these next two years as being “playoffs or bust”, but a winning record and a contending team in September is a must.
I still don’t like the fact we overpaid for pitching, but the deal is done and it should benefit us in the short run to compete in the AL Central to try and break our playoff drought. One last thing, it will be nice, come April, to actually send out a starter on Opening Day who we can legitimately call an Opening Day starter.