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The Kansas City Royals Would be Better Off Without James Shields

Published: Mar 04, 2014 22:47pm EST
By Lance_Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Sports

 

The Kansas City Royals gave up a king’s ransom to acquire starting pitcher James Shields from the Tampa Bay Rays in December of 2012. They gave up four of their top 18 prospects, including eventual American League Rookie of the Year Wil Myers, and trading away starting pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi isn’t looking too hot for the Royals right now either. Throw in the news that Shields has no interest in negotiating a contract extension, let alone signing one, once the season begins and it only reinforces that thought. We are roughly three weeks away from Opening Day so the clock is ticking Dayton Moore, although the Royals have confirmed that no extension talks are planned.

If the Royals allow Shields to walk via free agency, which he will be upon the conclusion of the 2014 season, then many will likely look at that blockbuster of a trade over a year ago as a bust for the Royals. Then again, some already do view the trade that way because even though the Royals desperately needed pitching help for last season and even though they had a deep enough farm system to absorb the losses – what the hell is the point if you aren’t going to make any efforts to sign James Shields to a contract extension?

Maybe you make him a qualifying offer and are able to nab a compensation pick in the 2015 Amateur Draft as a result of him leaving. Is that really the best your fan base should hope for or expect? You make one of the biggest trades in franchise history and the impression being given is that you may not even try to extend the target of your affection?

The goal with Shields is to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985 and so far all they’ve accomplished is having their first winning season since 2003. They won 86 games last season and finished seven games out of first place in the American League Central and six games back of a wild-card spot. Even if they manage to earn a postseason berth this season one playoff appearance for all that was given up for Shields doesn’t exactly scream ‘quality return’.

The Royals do have some exciting young pitching coming through the pipeline in Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer, but your expected rotation for 2014 has just one pitcher who’s a near lock to have success – James Shields. The rest, aside from Yordano Ventura if he makes the rotation, is a who’s who of aging veterans who could provide you quality innings here or there but you’re not really sure what you’re going to get on a given night.

If 2014 is indeed the final season that Shields wears that powder blue for the Royals many fans will be left wondering if it was worth it; regardless of whether the Royals make the playoffs or not. It’s a fair question to ask considering the Royals gave up an outfield bat with 30+ home run potential and hustle along with a pitching prospect that is major league ready and will likely wind up a staple in the Rays rotation at the onset of this season.

What if the Royals had never made the trade for Shields though?

They were unlikely to win the 86 games they did without Shields in 2013 but they would also be set up quite nicely for the 2014 season and beyond. Imagine a Royals rotation with the likes of Jake Odorizzi, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie and a Jason Vargas or other similar pitcher until Kyle Zimmer is ready. Instead the Royals are missing out on Odorizzi who is likely to outperform two-thirds of the Royals rotation alone this season.

Imagine a lineup that includes Wil Myers and an outfield that has Alex Gordon in left field, Lorenzon Cain in center field and of course, Wil Myers in right field. Maybe the tradeoff of keeping Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi evens out not having James Shields for the 2013 season or maybe it doesn’t, but it certainly would be better than having just Shields this season or beyond. The Royals were 12th in overall production according to fWAR, with a lot of that coming from the sheer volume of innings covered, but their offense was incredibly mediocre.

If the Royals are to make the playoffs, even as a wild-card team, this season then they will be relying on marked improvements from hitters such as Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and even Billy Butler. If General Manager Dayton Moore would have displayed just a touch more patience the offense wouldn’t be a concern heading into the 2014 season and their 2014 rotation would have three young, extremely talented arms making their mark on the American League (Yordano Ventura, Jake Odorizzi and Danny Duffy) while veterans like Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.

The 2014 Royals may have actually been much better if Dayton Moore didn’t pull the trigger on the imbalanced trade that brought James Shields to Kansas City. 


 

Comments (6)



  • Anonymous 03/09/14 11:57 PM
    This trade is going to go down as one of the worst in baseball history. The now popular trend of locking up younger players with promise would fit the Royals model of doing business, as they wont have to give out lengthy, expensive contracts to attract talent. They years of losing SHOULD (and looks like it has) make the farm system better. Then, by locking up guys like Will Myers and Jake Odorizzi early in their career and for relatively cheap and in the Royals' budget would help them 2 fold.

    a) they would have young, controllable, relatively cheap talent for 5-7 years approaching or IN their prime
    b) they can trade those same players when that first contract is up or almost up, for an influx of more young, controllable talent

    That is how you're going to keep a cycle of winning for teams like the Royals, Rays, Pirates, etc.; teams that work on a really tight budget. And, as long as you consistently have a draft that falls into the "B minus-A plus" range.

    Giving up whom I think is one of the BEST young bats in ALL OF BASEBALL, along with a VERY promising young pitcher, for 86 wins and an "ace" pitcher that in all likelihood wont sign long term, is the exact opposite of creating self sustained, long term cycle of winning. Because you know what 86 wins and no playoffs is as good as? 1 win and no playoffs; they're all golfing in October instead of playing baseball.

    Going into this season, Will Myers and Jake Odorizzi > James Shileds and Wade Davis...and i bet that would've allowed them to resign Santana, who can be just as good as Shields.
    Then, you sign Myers and Jake to long term deals and buy out some free agency years, a la the Braves, and if you can't sign the long term again after that, you trade them for maximum value right around their prime years.
    Continually maintaining a strong farm, strong young players on your ML roster, and not over spending. They BLEW IT. They could've been contending for a playoff spot for years. Also, if they start to string together a few years of playoff or almost playoff baseball, suddenly KC looks more attractive to free agents. Now, if need be, you sign someone a little "out of your range" if that person is the final piece(s) to the post season puzzle.

  • Anonymous 03/09/14 06:02 PM
    If they were really all in like that trade looked, they would bring back santana for one year since thats all he wants.

  • Anonymous 03/09/14 01:10 PM
    Myers' 2.4fW was balanced nicely by David Lough's last year and Jake Odorizzi wouldn't have made the Royals rotation last year or this year, not being the equal of Duffy, Ventura, or Zimmer. Mike Montgomery had become a bust and the fourth minor leaguer I can't even think of, so not sure how much value was given up. We know how much was received.

    Tampa may do well off the trade, Myers could fix the holes in his swing and become a competent outfielder, or he could become Jeff Francoeur or Clint Hurdle, won't know that answer for a few years. We do know the Royals added fourteen wins last year and are an even better team this year. Wonder if Tampa wonders if they would have won the series last year had they kept Shields?

    As for the imaginary lineup, remember 2011 with Gordon, Melky, and Frenchy along with lousy pitching? Royals tried that, didn't work. Royals needed a bridge to the next wave of talent and got it.

    As for extending Shields, he is a good pitcher, but that money might also be better spent on extending some of the youngsters, which seems an emerging model in the game. The three Young Guns everyone mentions might be targets a la Matt Moore. Eric Hosmer might be nice for a couple of extra years, Nori Aoki needs to be extended as Jorge Bonifacio isn't ready yet. Any couple of those would likely yield more value than a pitcher on the wrong side of the aging curve. KC needs a similar business model to Tampa, develop internally and trade aging veterans for prospects. A 3/60 for Shields doesn't fit that model, just as a 4/50 for Santana didn't.

  • Anonymous 03/09/14 12:29 PM
    I said it the day after this heist was made and I still feel this way: Dayton Moore will take this trade to his grave.

  • Lance_Rinker 03/09/14 11:40 AM
    How could this article have been written the day after the trade when I'm using information that wasn't even available or known the day after the trade was made?

    Furthermore, the one way in which Dayton Moore could have had this trade make the most sense is if he extended Shields - that doesn't appear to be happening. Therefore, trade looks even worse now.

  • Anonymous 03/09/14 11:21 AM
    That's a terribly unoriginal post that basically sounds like it was written the day after the Shields trade.

 

 

 

 

 

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