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Hot Stove: James Shields Traded to the Royals
Nate Springfield | Tuesday December 11th, 2012
James Shields adds talent and experience to the KC rotation. (US Presswire)
James Shields adds talent and experience to the KC rotation. (US Presswire)
Late Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals were ironing out a six player trade which involved sending starting pitcher James Shields and righthander Wade Davis along with cash, or a player to be named later, to the Royals in exchange for prospects outfielder Wil Myers, pitcher Jake Odorizzi, pitcher Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

The Kansas City Royals continue their off-season quest to pair a quality starting rotation with an offense they believe is good enough to compete in the American League Central next year.

Joining Ervin Santana (acquired via trade this offseason), Jeremy Guthrie, and Bruce Chen in Kansas City, James Shields, and possibly Wade Davis, will round out a Royals rotation that consists entirely of players that originated outside the organization.

Over the last four years James Shields has been one of the most reliable starting pitchers in all of baseball, recording at least 200 innings pitched in his last six seasons.  In his past three seasons, he has averaged 226-plus innings-pitched, a 3.77 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and 212 strikeouts.  His ERA is a little high for a staff ace over this time, but that number is skewed by an ERA of 5.19 in 2010.  Shields' expected fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 3.55 that season, close to his career FIP mark of 3.60.

A pitcher of Shields caliber is exactly what the Royals have been missing over the past several years.  In the last two seasons, the soon-to-be 31 year-old righty has recorded 14 complete games, six of which have been shutouts.  The Royals staff, in the same time period, has only recorded four complete games combined, one of which was a shutout.  In regards to reliability, the entire Royals organization has only had five seasons of 200-plus innings from a starter over Shields' six seasons of 200-plus innings-pitched.  Three of those seasons came from 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, and two seasons from Gil Meche.  

Along with Shields, the Royals pick up Wade Davis.  Davis, 27, who is potentially under team control through the 2017 season, thanks to team options in 2016 and 2017, found much success out of the bullpen in the 2012 season after struggling as a starter.  Given the chance to mature out of the pen may just be what the righthander needs to mature back into a starting role for the Royals in 2013.

Royals' GM Dayton Moore declared that, "It's time for us to start winning at the major league level.", after giving up two top prospects, Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, in this deal.  The organization believes they have a window of opportunity to compete now in the American League, and have been persistent in adding talent and depth this off-season to their stable of major league pitchers, addressing the area of weakness.

Myers, who will be 22 at the beginning of the 2013 season, is a nice get for the Rays.  He has been ranked among the top prospects in the Royals organization since being taken in the third round of the 2009 draft.  Spending most of the 2012 season at Omaha, Myers hit 24 homeruns with a triple-slash of .304/.378/.554, drawing 98 base-on-balls, with only 45 strikeouts in 439 Triple-A plate appearances.  He is young, and many scouts are quick to point out he is far from a sure thing, but Myers does have a promising future in Tampa's outfield at this time.

Also coming Tampa's way is another young and talented pitcher in 22 year-old righty Jake Odorizzi.  Odorizzi also spent most of the 2012 season at Triple-A Omaha, and earned the honor of the organization's Pitcher of the Year.  His 2.93 ERA and 7.4 K/9 over 107-plus innings pitched while at Triple-A also earned him two starts at the major league level in September.

The other two prospects Tampa acquired in the trade are former first round pick starter Mike Montgomery and prospect third baseman Patrick Leonard.  Montgomery came into professional ball with a lot of promise, but has yet to see time at the major league level for the Royals.  Ranked as the team's top prospect heading into last season by Baseball America, he posted a miserable 6.07 ERA between Double and Triple-A in 2012.  At only 23 years-old, he can still be an effective major league starter before it is all said and done.

Wil Myers figures to compete for the Rays starting right field job heading into the 2013 season.  With the depth of Tampa's rotation, Jake Odorizzi is slated to start the season at Triple-A once again, along with team mate Mike Montgomery.  Patrick Leonard will serve as organizational depth at this time.

Both team's addressed short term needs with this trade.  The Royals were able to add a top of the rotation starter, without sacrificing any talent that would weaken their team in the near future.  The Rays were able to exchange some of their tremendous depth at the starting pitcher position for a promising young outfielder that may be major league ready now, along with two young starting pitchers who both have shown great talent at one point in time during their young professional careers.

From a fantasy standpoint, all players should see an increase in value following this trade.  Even though James Shields is pitching for a team that will probably win less games in 2013, he is moving out of the American League East.  The much more pitcher friendly AL Central should help his ERA stay in the low-to-mid 3.00 range, while maintaining his strikeout count and WHIP.  As long as Wil Myers wins the right field job in Tampa, he should be protected in a more productive offensive lineup, and will see every day playing time if he breaks camp with the big league club.  Long term, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery should see higher ceilings with the Tampa organization, which projects to be deeper and more talented than the Royals three to four years down the road.  Both are worth a flier in any deep franchise format.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.