The Kansas City Royals acquired former All-Star James Shields and fellow right-hander Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday night for outfielder Wil Myers and a package of minor-league prospects.
Kansas City has been working all offseason to shore up a starting rotation that has been abysmal for years, re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and acquiring Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels. But the trade for Shields and Davis represents the most aggressive move yet under general manager Dayton Moore, who believes the Royals are primed to contend as early as this season.
“We have to start winning games at the major-league level, and the way you develop a winning culture is by winning major-league games,” Moore said. “It’s time for us to start winning at the major-league level.”
The blockbuster deal essentially means the Royals are mortgaging part of their future to start winning in the present.
Along with giving up Myers, widely voted the minor leagues’ top player last season, the Royals also traded away right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who would have competed for a spot in the Kansas City rotation this season. Left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard also are headed to the Rays, while the Royals will receive a player to be named or cash.
“When you can acquire a pitcher like James Shields and Wade Davis, we have to do it, because that’s what we’ve committed to our team — we’ve committed to our organization,” Moore said. “It’s important that we start winning games.”
Shields was an All-Star two years ago for Tampa Bay, when he went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. He was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts last season, when he pitched 227 2-3 innings.
The only other pitchers to log at least 200 innings in six straight seasons are the Jays’ Mark Buehrle, San Francisco’s Matt Cain, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia and the Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
Davis made 64 starts for Tampa Bay from 2009-11 before transitioning to the bullpen last season, where he went 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA. He’ll likely get a look at returning to the rotation in Kansas City.
The jewel of the deal for Tampa Bay is Myers, who will turn 22 on Monday. The power-hitting outfielder batted .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs in 134 games split between Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, and eventually could help provide some protection in the batting order for Rays star Evan Longoria.
Odorizzi was 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha before making two starts for the Royals in September, while Montgomery — once a highly prized prospect — struggled to a 5-12 mark with a 6.07 ERA at the same two stops.
“It’s not easy to give up prospects,” Moore said. “What we do is just focus on making our team the very best we can. We focus on making our team the best we can make it, and let (manager) Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff and the rest of the players go out and compete, and see how we match up.”