The Kansas City Royals got their ace. The Tampa Bay Rays got the best hitting prospect in baseball. And after a winter meeting's worth of middling trades, baseball finally got a blockbuster.
The Royals acquired top starter James Shields, right-hander Wade Davis and a player to be named later for minor league player of the year Wil Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard on Sunday night.
After an offseason's worth of proposals, counterproposals and counters to the counterproposals, two of the smallest-market teams in the game struck one of the biggest deals in years. Prospects of Myers' quality almost never get traded before their major league debuts, and pitchers of Shields' acumen rarely are dealt from teams that harbor hopes of contention.
Still, the Royals' eagerness to win with a young, home-grown core necessitated a front-of-the-rotation pitcher, and they got something like it in Shields, who turns 31 in 11 days. For the last six seasons, he has been a 200-plus-inning workhorse, and his growing strikeout rate and superb command convinced Kansas City he was the sort of pitcher to lead their rotation.
The price was enormous.
Myers, a right fielder who turned 22 two hours after the trade was announced, hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Odorizzi, arguably the Royals' top pitching prospect, went 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season as a 22-year-old.
While the left-handed Montgomery has struggled for two straight seasons, he was once one of the top prospects in baseball and still is just 23.
Leonard is a 20-year-old who hit 14 home runs in 235 rookie-ball at-bats in 2012.
The Royals plan on moving Davis back to the rotation after he excelled in a relief role last season. During his three years as a starter, Davis went 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and struggled to strike batters out.
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