Late last night, the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays consummated at least part of the much-bandied-about “blockbuster” trade – though limited to just those two teams – with the Rays sending righties James Shields and Wade Davis (plus a player to be named or cash) to the Royals for superprospect outfielder Wil Myers, very good pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, formerly big-time pitching prospect Mike Montgomery and quality young third base prospect Patrick Leonard.
Unsurprisingly, the early reaction to the trade has been some crack about Rays’ top exec Andrew Friedman buying Royals GM Dayton Moore dinner first.
That is, of course, the correct reaction, as the Rays just got themselves a crapload of quality prospects for two (modestly expensive) years of James Shields, and a guy who was a reliever last year (a very good one, it should be noted). That said, I completely understand why the Royals did it, and I have no issue with them going full bore in the rotation the next two years. They’ve already got a nice offensive core to build around, and they see their time to strike as now. Good for them for going for it.
The reactions of tangential relationship to the Cubs:
(1) I know what you’re all thinking – if only Matt Garza were healthy. Well, keep in mind that Shields is more highly regarded than Garza (rightly or wrongly), and is under control for two more years, not just one, like Garza. Throw in Davis, who’s under control for three more years, and it’s not really fair to even think about “what Garza might have brought.” This is an entirely different trade.
(2) The Rangers are going to really be looking to pick up a pitcher now, having missed out on Greinke and Shields, their believed top two pitching options this offseason. They previously had interest in Garza (before the stress reaction in his elbow that sidelined him for half a season), and maybe will again when he demonstrates he’s throwing just fine. Or, the Rangers could just go nuts on someone like Anibal Sanchez.
(3) This takes the Royals out of the mid-tier starting market in free agency, which incrementally could help the Cubs as they pursue those types.
(4) This helps set the price on pitchers in trade slightly higher, I’d reckon, with the Cubs a beneficiary if their best trade chip – Garza – gets healthy.
(5) This means the Mariners won’t be getting a bat for a pitcher, which means they’ll be more likely to lock down a free agent bat like Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, or Nick Swisher. That is probably of interest to the Cubs only to the extent that a player of that caliber was going to fall in their lap in late January/early February, which remains unlikely, irrespective of this deal (it just got ever so slightly less likely).