Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Shields-Myers trade revisited; not such a bad deal now, eh?


While reading David Schoenfield‘s 10/1/14 chat, someone asked the following question:

How does the Myers/Shields trade look a year later?

A great question.  For those who don’t remember the entirety of the deal, on 12/9/12 this trade occurred:

  • The Rays got Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard
  • The Royals got James Shields and Wade Davis

Prospect-followers (like me) howled about the trade at the time.  Wil Myers was the consensus “best prospect in the game” at the time while Shields wasn’t exactly considered to be an “Ace” in the league.  Royal’s GM Dayton Moore was accused of playing short-term gains versus the long term health of his franchise because of perceived pressure to return to the playoffs for the first time in nearly 3 decades.  Myers subsequently turned around and won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013 while the Royals improved but still fell short of the playoffs.  I freely admit it: I hated the deal and thought it was another example of the Rays fleecing another team in a trade.  I wonder now if it is because I undervalued what Shields brings to the table.  I wonder if we all do: compare what Tampa got for Shields versus what they got for David Price; if the Myers deal had been for Price instead of Shields, I wonder if anyone would have howled a bit, since Price was a “name” player with awards while Shields was and is a relatively “anonymous” player in what he accomplishes on a day to day basis.

Two seasons onward, with the Royals having broken through to the playoffs, lets take a look at the players involved.

  • Shields: Just finished his second 225+ inning season leading the Royals staff, putting up bWAR figures of 4.1 and 3.3.  Shields also made the start (thought he didn’t really factor in the decision) that put the Royals into the ALDS for the first time since 1985.  He went 6ip/2ER to earn the win in the ALDS series clincher over the Angels, and is scheduled to start the ALCS opener tonight.
  • Davis: failed as a starter in 2013, but became one of the best setup men in the game in 2014.  Numbers: 71 innings, a 1.00 ERA, a sub 1.00 whip and a 3.7 bWAR.  That’s a pretty big WAR figure for a reliever.

2014 bWAR for the Royals’ side of the trade: 7.0 between them.

How about on the Rays’ side?

  • Myers had a 2014 slash line of just .222/.294/.320 in 87 games and missed half the year with a broken wrist.  bWAR of -0.9.
  • Odorizzi made 31 starts as a back-end rotation member; 11-13 with a 4.13 ERA and a 90 ERA+.  bWAR=1.2
  • Montgomery just finished his second full year in the AAA rotation, going 10-5 with a 4.29 ERA in Durham.  He has yet to appear in the majors.  He’s also just finished his 7th minor league season, which means he’ll be a MLFA if he’s DFA’d by the club (he’s on the 40-man roster; I’m not sure how many options he has left).
  • Leonard had a .808 OPS+ as a 21 year old in high A.  He’s likely 2 more years away from a MLB debut.

2014 bWAR for Rays side of the trade: 0.3.

Devil’s advocate statement: It is just one season.  Shields is a FA once the playoffs are over while the Rays control all four guys for years to come.   But “flags fly forever” and the Royals did finally achieve their goal of making the playoffs.  And they continue in the playoffs while Tampa continues to play golf.

Two years onward, would you still make this trade?  Would you sacrifice the long term promise of Myers and Odorizzi for the short term glory of a playoff run?

Editor’s Update: this article was originally published in Oct 2014.  In mid December, 2014, Tampa, San Diego and Washington were involved in a huge 11-player 3-team trade where Myers was moved to San Diego.  The return Tampa got for Myers was, to be honest, kind of thin frankly.  The Padres sent 5 players to Tampa (a backup catcher and four prospects) to acquire Myers and others, and then Tampa turned around the two best prospects in the deal to the Nats for Steven Souza and Travis Ott.  Did the Rays trade away a problem child?  Was Myers over-hyped?  Did he win his Rookie of the Year award thanks to an inflated BABIP and in actuality he’s a lot closer to replacement level than many thought?  Per the article, the answer to all of those questions may be “yeah, maybe.”   But inarguably this recent Myers trade if anything makes the Sheilds trade that much closer of a “win” on the KC side of this original deal.


5 Responses to 'Shields-Myers trade revisited; not such a bad deal now, eh?'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Shields-Myers trade revisited; not such a bad deal now, eh?'.

  1. On balance, just looking at the players, it still looks lopsided in Tampa’s favor, but KC certainly got great value. I think Odorizzi is a quality pitcher and cheap and controllable, which swings the trade. Myers is the one that can really make it embarrassing or neutral.

    But as for whether I’d make the trade? It was a very high risk trade for the Royals. That it worked out almost as perfectly as they could have hoped tells me the result was good, but not sure about the process.


    10 Oct 14 at 1:44 pm

  2. I hated the trade for KC initially because I didn’t think the Royals were close enough to contention for Shields to put them over the top, or that they would be able to re-sign Shields for 2015 and beyond. I was obviously wrong about the first factor and may be about the second one as well, if KC decides to find the money to keep the band together. If Shields was the missing piece to put the team in the playoffs for the first time in three decades, though, it’s hard to fault the deal now, even if he doesn’t re-up.

    The contracts for Shields and Scherzer in particular will have a lot to do with setting the price for Zimmermann. Frankly, I’m more concerned about the length (years) of the contracts than I am about the per-year price.


    10 Oct 14 at 2:07 pm

  3. Good points both. Like any trade, the real impact can’t be truly measured for years. We have to find out what Myers and Odorizzi (and Leonard) turn into and compare it to what Shields has given the Royals.

    But hey, who wants to wait 10 years to say “I told you so.” 🙂

    Todd Boss

    10 Oct 14 at 4:32 pm

  4. Todd Boss

    10 Oct 14 at 5:28 pm

  5. Speaking of money for signing or re-signing, Kilgore has some news on the MASN front:

    It looks like the MLB arbitration panel had numbers closer to those of the O’s than those of the Nats, but still a good chunk of change. I believe the Dodger deal started at $84M per year, so why the Nats thought they could get more than that, I don’t know.


    10 Oct 14 at 9:34 pm

Leave a Reply