The biggest move in Major League Baseball this week happened on Sunday night and it included a significant local tie. The Wilmington Blue Rocks' parent-club, the Kansas City Royals, made a major splash via the trade market, and they used three former Blue Rocks to facilitate the deal. Kansas City acquired former Major League All-Star James Shields and fellow right-handed hurler Wade Davis in exchange for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.
Myers, Odorizzi and Montgomery had all spent time in Wilmington.
Myers, who was a Blue Rock during the second half of the 2010 season when he hit .346 with 18 doubles and 38 RBIs in 58 games, is the centerpiece of the deal. The former catcher, who now plays corner outfield, was named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year in 2012.
If you look at the players who have won this award over the last 30 years, a majority of the guys have gone on to have monster careers. Dwight Gooden, Jose Canseco, Greg Jeffries (twice), Sandy Alomar, Jr., Frank Thomas, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones (twice), Paul Konerko, Josh Beckett, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Jayson Heyward and Mike Trout were among the award-winners from 1983-2011. That’s a ton of All-Stars, a bevy of gold-glove winners and a handful of MVPs on that list.
The Royals gave Myers away for two pitchers who have made a combined one All-Star Game in their Major League careers. What’s most alarming is the fact that Myers is just the headliner of a strong trio of departing prospects.
Odorizzi made his Major League debut in September, appearing in a pair of games for Kansas City. The right-hander was a Blue Rock in 2011, posting a scant 2.87 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 15 starts and 78.1 innings pitched. Prior to arriving in Kansas City in 2012, he split time between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, going a combined 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA.
Montgomery was considered the Royals top pitching prospect when he starred for Wilmington in 2009, going 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in nine starts for the Blue Rocks. He has struggled since, getting demoted from Triple-A in 2012 after turning in a 5.69 ERA in 17 starts for Omaha. Still, plenty of scouts feel he is a breaking ball away from becoming a solid Major League pitcher.
It cost the Royals a heavy bounty to acquire two pitchers that have good, but not great resumes.
Shields was an All-Star in 2011, when he posted a 16-12 mark and a 2.82 ERA. The effort was good enough for a third-place finish in the American League Cy Young vote. The right-hander went 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA last season.
Considering he is due to receive $10.5 million in 2013 and has a club option for $12 million in 2014 with a $1 million buyout, he is relatively inexpensive. But he turns 31 this month and has pitched over 200 innings six times in his career already. How much longer can he last is the question haunting Royals fans right now.
Davis had been a starter from 2009-2011, but transitioned to the Tampa Bay bullpen last season. The move suited him well, as he went 3-0 with a 2.43 earned run average as a reliever. In other words, Kansas City traded away a highly regarded pitching prospect, that many scouts feel has a chance to be a fourth or fifth starter in the big leagues this season, for a guy who will either be its fourth starter or its setup man. That seems like less than equal value.
The deal seems a tad lopsided to me and many others, but there are plenty of scouts who think the Royals came out really well.
Baseball America recently found six unnamed scouts whom thought the Royals won the trade. The consensus reasoning among this group seemed to be that Shields and Davis are known quantities, while Myers, Odorizzi and especially Montgomery are far from sure things.
There are also plenty of scouts out there that think Myers is not progressing as much as a hitter as they expected him to by this point in his career. I’ll counter that his Minor League numbers speak for themselves, but they will argue that he is too pull-heavy at the plate, and his power is inconsistent at best.
Only time will tell who is right. At least one this is for certain though. The Royals took a chance. Now we all must wait and see whether it was a prudent one.