It was the type of move that could define a legacy. When Dayton Moore sent highly touted prospect Wil Myers along with Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson, it signaled that the time to contend was now. No more waiting for prospects to emerge. No more being content with mediocrity. It was time for the Royals to make a push to the playoffs.
The trade was controversial for the Royals at the time, as most pundits seemed to think that the Rays put one over on the Royals. Yes, they received Shields, the ace that they needed to front the rotation, but at what cost? Myers was considered as close to a sure thing as a prospect could be and Odorizzi was expected to turn out to be a solid middle of the rotation starter. Davis had put together a solid year in relief for the Rays in 2012, but had failed as a starter before that and was due just under $33 Million over the next five years at the time of the trade.
As it turns out, this trade has been fairly one sided – for the Royals. While Wade Davis predictably struggled as a starter last season, he has turned into perhaps the preeminent setup man in the American League, posting a 1.23 ERA and a 0.845 WHiP, striking out 14.2 batters per nine innings. James Shields has been everything that the Royals had hoped for, as he has posted a 21-13 record with a 3.41 ERA in Kansas City since coming over. Perhaps just as importantly, Shields has been through playoff chases before, and can help keep a younger pitching staff under control when the pressure is on.
Even though Shields has struggled of late, the pieces that the Royals gave up to acquire Shields and Davis have not exactly performed to expectations. After winning the Rookie of the Year award last season, and forcing the Royals to endure another half season of Jeff Francoeur due to his absence, Myers has struggled this season. In 2014, he has posted a .227/.313/.354 batting line, hitting only five home runs. His OPS+ of 84 is only three points higher than what Nori Aoki has produced this season. Odorizzi has been mediocre in his first full season as a starter, posting a 4-7 record with a 4.18 ERA. While the strikeouts have been there, Odorizzi just has not looked like the type of pitcher he was expected to be at this point.
In order for the trade for James Shields and Wade Davis to be considered a success, it was expected that the Royals would need to break their playoff drought and make the postseason. One of the last things that seemed to be a consideration would be that the prospects that the Royals sent over would not pan out, and the Royals could win the trade by default. However, based upon the major league performances by the players involved, it would appear that this trade has, thus far, turned out quite well for the Royals.
Of course, a lot can change going forward. Wil Myers could make the adjustments needed at the plate and turn into that power hitting force, protecting Evan Longoria that the Rays thought they traded for. Jake Odorizzi could continue to develop and become a solid middle of the rotation piece, providing excellent value as a third or fourth starter in Tampa Bay. Yet, as things stand presently, the Royals appear as though they got the better end of the deal. A playoff berth would only confirm that thought.
James Shields and Wade Davis have been exactly what the Royals have needed. It looks like the gamble Dayton Moore made a year and a half ago has paid off.