Royals made right move with trade
Dec 9, 2012 at 12:00a ET
People will crush the Royals. People always crush the Royals, and they mostly deserve it after nine straight losing seasons, the last 6-1/2 under general manager Dayton Moore.
But not this time.
Not after obtaining 40 percent of their 2013 starting rotation Sunday night without trading a single major leaguer in their stunning blockbuster with the Rays.
Yes, the Royals gave up four prospects to get right-handers James Shields and Wade Davis, and woe to any GM who parts with such gold in this hyper-critical, Twitter-crazed era.
Well, last time I checked, outfielder Wil Myers was not yet Willie Mays. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi might prove nothing more than a No. 3 starter. Lefty Mike Montgomery regressed after Baseball America named him the Royals’ top prospect in 2012, and third baseman Patrick Leonard spent last season in Rookie Ball.
“I love prospects, but uncle,” one GM said Sunday night. “Myers is no slam dunk. He better hit a ton. And maybe he will. But this is far from a lopsided deal.”
Oh, it could become one if Myers becomes a superstar and the Royals fail to make the playoffs in either of Shields’ two seasons. But this is a chance that the Royals had to take, not just for Moore to save his job, but also for the franchise to restore its good name.
I’m sick of low-revenue teams that are scared to make a move, fixated on their place in the Baseball America organization rankings, content in their mediocrity.
The Royals, for too many years, were one of those teams. But now, they should at least compete in the AL Central, even with the mighty Tigers.
Shields is a legitimate ace. Davis was more successful as a reliever last season than he ever was as a starter, but Rays GM Andrew Friedman says starting is “his true calling.”
What, you expected the Royals to enter the season with Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie at the top of their rotation? How else were they supposed to upgrade their rotation? By waiting for Odorizzi, Montgomery, et al?
The Royals boast one of the game’s deepest farm systems. It was time for them to stop fretting over their prospects and leverage them into actual major leaguers. If the team’s young hitters, most notably first baseman Eric Hosmer, fail to develop, then Moore is doomed, anyway.
True, Moore created many of his problems, failing to develop starters, refusing to trade closer Joakim Soria at peak value and most recently, tendering righty Luke Hochevar, who now becomes a spare part with a projected arbitration salary in the $4.5 million range.
OK, fine. Moore’s record is spotty. But injuries to catcher Salvador Perez, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and several pitchers hurt the Royals last season. With better health, an improved offense and a stronger pitching staff, the team will have legitimate reason to be excited.
The Rays, on the other hand, are in a less celebratory mood; “Lies!!!” left-hander David Price tweeted after news of the trade broke. Both Shields and Davis were homegrown. Both were signed to long-term extensions. But the Rays’ market yields so little revenue, the team has little choice but to constantly turn over its roster.
Shields will earn $10.25 million next season, then about $13.5 million in 2014. The Rays couldn’t wait any longer to move him; his trade value diminishes each day he gets closer to free agency. The same is true of Price, who likely will be dealt no later than a year from now.
“We run the team like we’re balanced on the head of a pin,” team president Matt Silverman said. “There is very little margin for error — zero margin for error. We understand that. We accept that. It factors into all of the decisions we make.”
The Rays, mind you, still will boast a formidable rotation — Price, righty Jeremy Hellickson and lefty Matt Moore will be the top three, followed by some combination of righties Odorizzi, Jeff Niemann, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer. But center fielder B.J. Upton is now in Atlanta, and while the team acquired Yunel Escobar to play shortstop, it needs to fill many other holes.
The Royals, deep in inexpensive, young talent, were in perfect position to exploit a fellow low-revenue club, one that ranks even lower on baseball’s financial food chain.
The Rays, smart as they are, can’t be sure that Myers will become a star. But they know that Shields and Davis made major contributions to some of their best teams.
People will crush the Royals. People always crush the Royals. But trust me, the Rays sure don’t feel like they won the trade.