Jun 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Revisiting the James Shields Trade

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.

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Tags: James Shields Kansas City Royals Wade Davis

  • jimfetterolf

    I’m not alone :) My view is that Myers was traded because, for all the fanfare of hitting homers in little parks against minor league pitching, he still had problems with off speed stuff and that could be exploited and perhaps not fixed, as he gets his bat speed from an early trigger. If he waits on pitches he’ll lose power, Billy an obvious example. Myers is also a mediocre defender who would look like Frenchy in RF but without Frenchy’s arm.

    The knock on Jake was he was a nibbler, had some stuff but wouldn’t throw strikes, which is why in Omaha and Tampa he’s been about a five inning pitcher.

    In sum, Royals clearly won the trade last year, in spite of David Lough only matching Myers’ fW and beating his rW. The Royals are winning the trade this year. Next year, who knows. Baseball is funny that way. Myers may turn into Alex, he may turn into Frenchy.

    • unclejesse40

      I still think it is important to point out that all of the other pitchers in the starting rotation are having career or near career years pitching along side of Shields. Plus the piece that routinely doesn’t get mentioned is that James Shield is going to get us a comp pick when he moves on after this year. If that pick can be turned into another piece, this trade looks even better for the boys in blue. Prospects are a funny thing, they are still in fact prospects that have proven nothing against the best of the best in the MLB.

    • Dave Hill

      I’m not a fan of Myers’ stance. He has a very open stance that he never really closes when he swings, leaving him very susceptible to pitches on the outer half, especially down in the zone. It’s an adjustment he will need to make if he is to tap into the potential he has.

      • jimfetterolf

        Last I looked, Myers’ second year looks a great deal like Moose’s second year, except Moose is a better defender at a more important position and has stayed healthy. Your description of Myers does remind of Moose.

        • Dave Hill

          They are very similar in terms of batting stance. I wonder if Myers will have the same type of career arc unless he makes an adjustment.

  • AMD Guru

    Will Myers has way too much talent and will turn out to be a star. Odorizzi will figure it out and be a good 2 or 3 rotation guy. Remember, even the GOAT himself, Greg Maddux, had to figure it out. Just look at 1988.

  • chief4ever

    Big Game James and Big Strikeout Wade have been all we could ask for…..trade was good for KC and I hope for the Rays eventually….like Will and Jake and hope they have good careers also. Go Royals !