Back when the Kansas City Royals traded away Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Patrick Leonard and Mike Montgomery to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis, the trade was generally considered to be a positive – for the Rays. The Royals were giving up one of the top prospects in the game in Myers and a solid pitching prospect in Odorizzi for a two year window to make the playoffs. Even if the Royals, somehow, were to reach that promised land, it seemed as though Myers was destined to be a superstar. This trade was generally though to be on that the Royals could regret for years to come.
But a funny thing happened along the way to Myers coronation as the next great young player in the game – he simply has not progressed as hoped. After putting together a solid rookie campaign in which he posted a .293/.354/.478 batting line with 13 home runs in winning the Rookie of the Year award, Myers slumped to a .222/.294/.320 batting line last year, hitting all of six home runs. This may have been due, in part, to a stress fracture in his wrist, or from a wide open stance that causes him difficulties with pitches on the outer edge of the plate, but it is fair to say that the 2014 campaign was a major disappointment.
However, Wil Myers is no longer the Rays problem. Together with Ryan Hanigan, he was shipped out to the San Diego Padres as the Rays look to overhaul their entire roster this offseason. Now, the Rays have Odorizzi, who appears to be a middle of the rotation starter, and two lottery tickets for James Shields and Wade Davis.
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The Royals, meanwhile, got exactly what they wanted from the trade. Not only did Shields anchor the rotation and prove to be a solid mentor for the young staff, but he helped to lead the Royals not just to the playoffs, but to within a base of a World Series title. Wade Davis may have flamed out as a starter, but he turned into one of the more dominant set up men in baseball last season, combining with Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera to give the Royals a lights out trio to close out the ballgame.
Perhaps Dayton Moore realized something that no one else did. Perhaps Moore knew that the sudden spike in strikeouts during the 2012 minor league season was a portent of things to come. Yes, Myers had hit 37 home runs that season, but at the cost of sacrificing contact and perhaps becoming a bit too pull conscious. The warning signs may have been there, but only Moore and the Royals scouting department knew what they were.
Now, with Myers, the key to the trade with the Rays, sent out to San Diego, the debate on whether or not the Royals lost that trade is over. Myers is gone after two years in Tampa Bay. Yes, Shields is likely to depart as a free agent, but Wade Davis is still a member of the bullpen. The Royals have tasted success, putting together consecutive winning seasons for the first tine since 1988-89. The Royals are spending money on free agents, and are looking to keep that momentum going.
Completely turning around the fortunes of a franchise for a player who is now on his third team in two years? Yes, it is safe to now say that the Royals won the James Shields-Wil Myers trade.