When the news broke that general manager Dayton Moore and the Royals agreed to ship the organization’s two brightest and most major league-ready stars to the Tampa Bay Rays, angers flared, loyalties were tested and a statement was made. That statement came from Moore, saying that he and the Royals weren’t waiting around for success anymore; they were ready for it now.
Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) poses for a picture during photo day at the Royals Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
However, what if someone told you that the trade almost turned into a missed opportunity? According to Ken Rosenthalof Fox Sports, the Royals were almost too late with their decision.The Rays were in talks with multiple teams about James Shields. The Royals figured the Detroit Tigers were in on the discussions, but instead, it turned out that the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks were at the negotiating table with Tampa Bay. Moore and the Royals had a choice, and it wouldn’t be a cheap one from a talent perspective.
Working late into the night and early morning, Moore and his assistants crammed into a small conference room at their hotel. Moore went to a white board, listed and ranked the organizations top prospects and finally, laid out the price named by the Rays. Four quick swipes from the eraser in Moore’s hand, and the names of Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard were all removed from the group. Moore looked to his assistants and explained that while the price was high, the return was valuable and essential. The deal was struck and the Royals had beaten the Diamondbacks and Rangers to the punch. The next day Arizona signed Brandon McCarthy to two years and the Rangers moved on in search of help elsewhere. The Royals had landed two extremely important pieces to their future, Shields and Wade Davis, a strong reliever with starting experience.
If that deal wouldn’t have happened, the Royals spring training would have a much different look, feel and buzz surrounding it. Instead of the buzz of Shields and Davis working alongside of Ervin Santana, and Jeremy Guthrie, we’d be seeing of Odorizzi was ready to make the jump into the rotation. There would also be the discussion of where Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza fit in the rotation. Out in right field, it’d be Wil Myers alongside of Jeff Francoeur shagging fly balls and preparing to make the full-time jump to the big leagues.
Who knows if the Royals would have shopped around for a suitor to take Myers in exchange for a top-of-the-rotation guy ready to turn the Royals’ woes around. Hell, maybe Moore could have found another team willing to take Myers, while leaving Odorizzi intact with the organization. But, with all that aside, Moore stepped up to the table, grabbed the dice and laid down the big money. With as many years that have passed in Kansas City where fans complain about the passiveness GMs have assumed in the area, Moore silenced those critics while feeding ammunition to his personal critics, for now. The man took a risk, but when the Royals are nipping at the heels of the Tigers, the gallery of critics will sound more like the front pew in church.