After weeks of speculation and rumors, the Kansas City Royals finally pulled the trigger on a deal including top prospect Wil Myers, sending him, along with pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and third base prospect Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. Before I get into breaking down the trade, here's some of the reaction from the best sources around the web:
- Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star says "this trade is not the unmitigated disaster some are calling it. But it is a significant reach."
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs.com compares the trade to the Erik Bedard trade with the Orioles and Mariners in 2008, noting that "that trade is generally regarded as the worst prospects-for-veteran swap in recent history. This might be worse."
- Keith Law of ESPN.com writes that "[Myers] alone, for two years of Shields and three years of Davis (who has club options beyond that), would have made sense. To get Myers plus a likely mid-rotation starter, plus a lefty with arm strength, plus a low-level hitting prospect, makes this an outstanding day for Rays fans."
- John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com notes that "by itself, this trade won't be enough. By itself, this trade won't save Dayton Moore's job."
You should be starting to get a feel for the general consensus behind this trade. Few, if any, are claiming an early victory for the Royals, while those who like the deal from the Rays standpoint vary from thinking that the trade slightly favors the Rays to those who believe that Rays GM Andrew Friedman is some kind of ninja/Jedi-master hybrid.
The latter certainly seems extreme because, when it comes down to it, the Rays got exactly zero proven pieces. Myers is as much of a sure thing as there is as a prospect because, with little left to prove in the minors, there's little chance he won't become at least an average major league hitter. He won't necessarily be a star, but he almost certainly won't be a complete bust.
Myers for Shields and Davis would have been a reasonable trade - one that still seems to favor the Rays, but not enough to cause widespread panic. It simply would have shown the Royals preference to try to truly compete in 2013 and 2014 with Myers being the price they needed to pay in order to do so. That philosophy isn't for everyone, but it is one that is employed regularly throughout baseball.
But that strategy has two problems. First, the Rays somehow got the Royals to include three more intriguing prospects in the deal, making this deal too lopsided even for the "sacrifice the future for now" strategy, and secondly, the Royals still aren't good enough to compete.
Essentially, the Royals sacrificed one of the best prospects in the game in order to get over .500, then tossed in three more prospects for good measure.