By now everybody has heard about the big trade. The Kansas City Royals acquired pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis for some minor league prospects. The big key to the trade was without a doubt Shields, or Big Game James as his nickname indicates. In Shields the Royals got perhaps the best pitcher they have had in years. It is a testament to Dayton Moore's abilities that he was able to to get Shields without giving up anybody with more than a few games of major league experience. This is a bold statement by Dayton Moore that the Royals are ready to compete now.
"We are ready to compete now," said Moore. "Anytime you can acquire pitchers with the talent of Shields and Davis, you have to do that. Plus, James is a winner, a real gritty kind of guy, a guy who you love pitching for your team and coming to the team potlucks and playing a game of cornhole with afterward."
Moore already has a reputation of being one of the best builders of minor league talent, and with this move he is poised to also be recognized as one of the best builders of a major league roster. Shields, Santana, Guthrie, and Hochevar gives the Royals 4 pitchers with #1 starter talent. Either Chen or Davis would give them perhaps the best 5th starter in the majors. I know some fans are excited for the return of Paulino and Duffy, but honestly, how do they crack a rotation this loaded?
Reactions from the Royals players have been unanimously positive. Elated would be the best word to describe their feelings. "This vindicates my signing here," said pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. "When Dayton offered me the third year that no other GM was willing to do, that showed me the commitment to winning that he had. It doesn't surprise me that he went out and got Shields."
Luke Hochevar said, "When I heard that we got Shields, it made my day. This shows that now is the time and management is going all in. I called James and told him he would love it here. Perhaps the best thing about Dayton is his patience. He is willing to overlook a bad start every once in a while and let you find yourself. I have no doubt that James will feel very comfortable here."
It's not just the pitchers that are happy. The position players are also ecstatic. Jeff Francoeur was perhaps the happiest one of all. "When I heard about the trade I couldn't stop smiling." he said. "It made my entire offseason. This is shaping up to be perhaps the best offseason I have had. I was so happy when I heard about this trade that I gave myself a nut tap, and I wasn't even wearing a cup."
As with anything in today's Internet addicted days, there are people who are critical of this trade. This is not surprising, as there are some who thrive only on criticizing others. A handful of people are upset about losing Wil Myers, but he was only a prospect. Prospects come and go. A few succeed while many more fail. He was not a sure thing like James Shields is a sure thing. Besides, not everybody in the front office was sold on Myers. One member of Royals management said, "We had real concerns about Myers and his ability to fit into our culture. He struck out 140 times last year, and corner outfielders need to have a good handle on the strike zone. He also is a bit slow, and speed in the outfield is very important. His attitude was also a bit of a red flag. We had a conversation with Wil about bringing him up to the majors around June and having him back up Frenchy for the rest of the season and that did not go well. You can't be bringing up a guy like that if he is only going to destroy the clubhouse chemistry."
Some are also concerned about Shields possibly showing signs of regressing, but those people are failing to take into account the defense of his new team. With Getzy signed for next year, the Royals have perhaps the best defenders in the league at Right Field, First Base, Second Base, Shortstop, and Left Field. Plus, Third Base, Catcher, and Center Field are decdent. So, expect to see Shields do even better pitching in front of such an elite defense.
So I give this trade an A+. Opportunities like this don't come along very often, and when they do you take advantage of them. And, I haven't even mentioned Davis, who could end up being a top of the line starter himself. Sure, losing a prospect like Montgomery hurts, but you can live with that for the players the Royals got in return.
As fun as watching the Royals every game the last couple of years has been, I expect to it be even more fun with the Royals in the hunt all this next year.
(As a postscript, don't lose sight of the Royals signing speedster outfielder Willy Taveras. He is the kind of veteran gritty player that Dayton thrives on finding. Royals management was very excited about this signing and have high hopes for Taveras this next year. He will be player to keep an eye on.)