A year-and-a-half ago, the Royals and Rays consummated a seven-player trade, and almost immediately the smart set — pardon me, I mean "the smart set" — ruled the trade a big win for the Rays.
After all, the Royals were essentially trading two of their best prospects, including their No. 1 hitting prospect, Wil Myers — for what looked like two seasons of James Shields and not a lot else.
Again, there were five other players in the deal, but essentially it seemed like Myers for Shields, with a bunch of throw-ins.
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Well, the most valuable players in that deal this season have been a couple of the throw-ins: Wade Davis has been tremendous in the Royals’ bullpen, and Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi — who pitched six shutout frames Saturday against the Cubs, which got me to thinking about this again — has slightly out-performed Shields.
Granted, this is just a snapshot in time. Shields and Myers were both impressive last season. But this snapshot is a great object lesson in the unpredictability of baseball players, and with seven players involved, just about anything might happen.
Still, the early take on this deal was that the Royals had to reach the postseason with Shields, or they would lose the deal. Because Odorizzi and Myers should pay dividends to the Rays for years to come.
Which still seems true, by the way.
Addendum: Since I typed the above, James Shields pitched a shutout. Which might well have pushed him past Odorizzi a hair. The central point holds, I think: These things are hard to figure.