ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay got a lot younger, trimmed the payroll and added offense Sunday night, but doing so cost the team dearly.
The Rays completed a blockbuster deal, in which right-handers James Shields and Wade Davis, along with a player to be named, were traded to the Royals for highly-regarded outfielder Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard.
"Personally, I think this is the most difficult trade we've made to date," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "Both guys were drafted and developed here. They've been key players in this organization's turnaround. And they're both really high-quality people. It's a painful loss for our club, but I'm confident in our resilience and the talent that we will be returning to the field next season."
Shields will make $10.25 million in 2013, and the Rays held a club option for $12 million in '14. Meanwhile, Davis will make $2.8 million in 2013 and $4.8 million in '14; Tampa Bay held club options on the right-hander that could have kept him with the team through 2017.
Prospects acquired by Rays
Wil Myers, OF: Myers, ranked No. 3 on MLB's Top 100 Prospects list and No. 1 on the Royals' Top 20 at the time of the trade, was arguably the best hitting prospect in the Minor Leagues. He appears ready for his first big league shot. Initially drafted as a catcher, Myers moved to the outfield after one year behind the plate, and he should fit the mold of a run-producing right fielder in the very near future.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP: Odorizzi was No. 30 on MLB's Top 100 Prospects list and No. 3 on the Royals' Top 20. This is the second time Odorizzi has been traded; he originally was drafted by the Brewers before being shipped to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke deal. The 2012 Futures Game starter shows four pitches that have the chance to be average or better. He can get his fastball up to 95 mph, sitting in the 92-93 mph range with plenty of sink. Odorizzi's curve can be plus at times, he has an above-average slider and his changeup grades out as average.
Mike Montgomery, LHP: Montgomery, the Royals' No. 6 prospect, has seen his star fade a bit of late. Once thought to be one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the game, Montgomery has scuffled more often than not for the past two seasons. Command issues have largely been the culprit as he walked 4.1 per nine in 2011 and 3.8 in '12, along with allowing 10.8 hits per nine this past season. As much as he's struggled, Montgomery's pure stuff gives the Rays plenty to work with.
Patrick Leonard, 3B: A product of the Craig Biggio-coached St. Thomas High School program in Texas, Leonard got an above-slot deal to sign instead of heading to the University of Georgia. His pro debut in 2012 -- he signed too late in 2011 to play -- was a solid one, especially in terms of showing glimpses of his power potential. Leonard tied for the Appalachian League lead in home runs while finishing eighth in slugging percentage. While he may never be a high-average guy, it does look like he'll make consistent contact to reach that power in the future.
"We're constantly working to balance the present and the future and always trying to thread the needle," Friedman said. "As an organization, we rely more on the contributions of our young players than anyone else in baseball. But with this trade, we're hoping to replenish our system and add a lot of players we feel can help us sustain this run of success we've had for the last five years."
Shields, who turns 31 a week from Thursday, has been one of the most popular players in team history. He owns a career 87-73 record and a 3.89 ERA and is the Rays' all-time leader in wins, starts (217), innings pitched (1,454 2/3), strikeouts (1,250), complete games (19) and shutouts (eight). The seven-year veteran has made a club-record four Opening Day starts. In 2012, Shields went 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and ranked third in the American League in innings pitched and fourth with 223 strikeouts. It was his sixth consecutive season of at least 200 innings. In Shields' final start for the Rays, on Oct. 2 vs. the Orioles, he collected a club-record 15 strikeouts in a complete-game two-hitter with no walks, but he sustained a 1-0 loss.
In 2011, Shields made the AL All-Star team and finished third in the AL Cy Young Award race.
"I think I felt like something was going to happen this offseason," Shields said. "I was kind of hoping it wouldn't. I really like the organization and the Tampa Bay area. But Andrew felt like it was my time to go, and here I am. I'm going to start a new chapter in my life and move on and try to help the Kansas City Royals."
Shields did not try to hide the fact that he was hurting inside to be leaving Tampa Bay. Always a class act, Shields spoke of his favorite times with the Rays.
"For me, going to the playoffs the last five years, going to the World Series and, for me, this last year also was special," Shields said. "I felt like I was a part of the best pitching staff in baseball. If not for a long time. You can probably put our pitching staff up there with the best of them in Major League history. I'm very proud of that, to have played with those guys and to have been a part of that situation.
"I'm going to miss eveyrbody. I'm going to miss the organization. Miss the city. I'm going to miss the fans as well. It's a sad day. Definitely a sad day, but then again I'm moving on and I'm looking to go to new places."
Davis, 27, went 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 54 relief appearances in 2012, his first season working out of the bullpen after posting a career 4.22 ERA over 64 starts from 2009-11.
Shields' departure will leave a huge gap in the starting rotation, particularly in the way of innings pitched, as the right-hander has been the workhorse. The fact the Rays traded two starters -- most still consider Davis a starter -- was the biggest surprise of the deal.
"I think [trading two starters is] something that's never an easy thing to do," Friedman said. "I think Kansas City has one of the deepest farm systems in the league. It's already contributed some key players to their Major League club. For us, as we went through this process, we lined up really well with them. I don't think we set out to trade two, but as we started going through things and talking about different scenarios, I think it lined up in such a way that it makes sense for both teams."
Likely in-house candidates to fill Shields' spot in the rotation include right-handers Alex Cobb and Chris Archer.
B.J. Upton left the Rays via free agency in November, signing a five-year, $75.25 million deal with the Braves, which left Tampa Bay without a center fielder and removed firepower from the team's already lackluster offense. Myers appears to have the potential to fill that void left in center field while injecting some much-needed life into the lineup.
Myers, who turns 22 on Monday, began the 2012 season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and earned a May 16 promotion to Triple-A Omaha. He hit a combined .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBIs.
MLB.com rated Myers as the No. 3 prospect in the Minor Leagues after his 2012 campaign. The North Carolina native has hit .303 with 64 home runs, 259 RBIs, a .395 on-base percentage and a .522 slugging percentage over four Minor League seasons after being selected in the third round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft by Kansas City.
Odorizzi, 22, made his Major League debut in September and went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts for the Royals. He spent the majority of the season with Omaha where he was named the team's Pitcher of the Year, going 11-3 with a 2.93 in 19 games (18 starts). Odorizzi began the campaign with Northwest Arkansas and was promoted after going 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in seven starts. His combined 15 victories tied for third most in the Minor Leagues.
Originally selected by the Brewers in the supplemental first round (32nd overall) of the 2008 Draft, Odorizzi was one of several players traded to the Royals in December 2010 for pitcher Zack Greinke. MLB.com ranked Odorizzi as the No. 3 prospect in the Royals' system.
Montgomery, 23, made 10 starts for Northwest Arkansas and 17 starts for Omaha, and he went a combined 5-12 with a 6.07 ERA in 27 starts. After the season, he was ranked by MLB.com as the Royals' No. 6 prospect. Over the last two seasons (2011-12), the left-hander has gone 10-23 with a 5.69 ERA and 133 walks. However, from 2008-10, he combined to go 15-10 with a 2.27 ERA, 220 strikeouts and only 79 walks. He was originally selected in the supplemental first round (36th overall) of the 2008 Draft out of Hart High School in Newhall, Calif. -- the same alma mater as Shields.
Leonard, 20, made his professional debut in 2012 with Rookie-level Burlington. He hit .251 with 14 home runs, 46 RBIs, 30 walks, a .340 on-base percentage and a .494 slugging percentage over 62 games and was named a postseason Appalachian League All-Star. A right-handed hitter, Leonard spent the majority of the year at third base. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 Draft out of St. Thomas High School in Houston.
"I think it's very possible that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi help us win games in 2013, and Mike Montgomery as well," Friedman said.