The much-anticipated James Shields blockbuster has finally happened, and it was even bigger than most of us expected. Tampa Bay also added another MLB-ready starter in Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash to the deal in exchange for a haul of talented prospects from Kansas City.
The Royals’ official Twitter page broke the news last night:
#Royals acquire RHPs James Shields, Wade Davis and player to be named or cash from Tampa Bay for Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) December 10, 2012
The main acquisition for the Rays in this trade is obviously 22-year-old OF Wil Myers, who was the club’s top prospect and arguably the best hitting prospect in all of baseball. Myers was named the Baseball America Minor League Baseball Player of the Year in 2012, putting up an impressive .304/.378/.554 line with Triple-A Omaha this season. He finished second in the league in home runs (24), fourth in the league in RBI (79) and third in slugging. Rays fans are really going to enjoy seeing power like this from Myers in the future.
The Rays also received right-handed pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, who seems seems like a guy with frontline starter potential in the majors. The 22-year-old former first-round draft pick had a great season in the minors this year, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA and a 8.4 K/9 through 145.1 IP in AA and AAA ball. He also made his his MLB debut (two starts, 7.1 IP) with the Royals.
Check out a full scouting report on Odorizzi over at MLB.com.
The Rays lost two quality starters in Wade Davis and James Shields, but they got at least one back in this trade by acquiring Odorizzi. Jon Mayo of MLB.com ranks Myers and Odorizzi as the organization’s top 2 best prospects.
Tampa Bay got another top-ten ranked prospect in this deal with LHP Mike Montgomery. The 23-year-old was in the Royals’ organization for five years, and has struggled ever since reaching Triple-A two seasons ago. Montgomery posted an ugly 5.69 ERA in 17 starts with Omaha this year. However, with very good stuff and a high upside, the Rays may be able to work their magic and transform yet another talented arm into a refined Major League pitcher.
The fourth and final prospect that the Rays received in this blockbuster is 20-year-old third baseman Patrick Leonard. Leonard batted .251/.340/.494 with 14 homers and 46 RBI through 62 games in Rookie League ball this season. He has a long way to go before he reaches the big leagues, but his power potential makes him someone to keep an eye on in the coming years.
To recap this 6-7 player megadeal in a nutshell, I believe that the deal is a win-win for both clubs. Kansas City’s rotation (and team) just got a whole lot better with two key additions, and Tampa’s future is now brighter.
I personally would have liked to see the Rays add a little more to their offensive depth rather than just restock on arms again, but all-in-all Andrew Friedman and the front office still got the job done here.
One positive about the deal was that the Rays now have a lot more cash on their hands by trading away two pricey salaries in Shields and Davis. The Rays would have owed Shields over $22 million ($10 million in 2013) in the final two years of his contract and Davis would have been payed over $6.5 million for the next two seasons (which is a lot considering how the Rays use him) before three years of expensive team options.
Hopefully the Rays will use some of the money they save to sign somebody productive this offseason off the free agent market to fill in needed positions that are still empty on the roster (RHH 1B/DH, catcher, relief pitcher).
Here’s GM Andrew Friedman and president Matt Silverman on the blockbuster below:
With Day 1 of the MLB Winter Meetings already behind us and Day 2 now in progress, Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays have shown that they’re not going to hesitate to pursue players on the free agent or trade market. After being involved in a flurry of rumors on Monday, it looks as if the Rays could be pretty active this week in Nashville.
With a handful of possible trade possibilites on the table and multiple teams contacting the Rays, here are five things the club should try to do over these next few days.
Trade Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields
The chances the Rays trade either one of the two talented starters seem very likely at the moment. As important as these two top-tier arms are to the Rays’ rotation, trading one of the two (not both) would make a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.
Tampa has a surplus of starting pitching and is in serious need of offensive help, and both Shields and Hellickson are currently at very high value on the market. In addition, if the Rays were to trade Shields, it would be one less huge salary to pay (that they can hardly afford anyway).
Trading either Hellickson or Shields (or David Price) is really their only way of acquiring a star-quality player or top prospect caliber talent this winter. Knowing that Rays will probably trade one of them should make the next couple of days pretty exciting.
Not trade David Price
The Rays have made it clear that they’re willing to trade away Cy Young award-winner David Price for the right offer, taking into account the 29-year-old phenom’s upcoming pricey contract issues. In a recent article on ESPN.com, columnist Buster Olney points out the fact that Price may very possibly be traded sometime in the next year as the Rays are probably not going to be able to afford him eventually.
Although his value may be at its career peek right now, I think dealing Price this offseason would be a mistake. The Rays could use the offensive boost, but the core of the franchise is still pitching and defense, and trading away a player like Price would potentially be too big of loss for the team.
Put Alex Colome, Alex Torres, Alex Cobb and Wade Davis on the trade block
Believe it or not, the Rays could actually enter the 2013 season with a much better better offense without trading one of their three top starters. Being so deep in the starting pitching department, the Rays have major-league ready starters that aren’t even being used to their full potential and a handful of talented pitching prospects that they could afford giving away.
If the Rays can keep the same ridiculously good starting rotation they had this year and at the same time put together a better offense for next season, they’re going to be one very serious contender in 2013.
With prospects like Colome and Torres, and MLB-ready starters like Davis and Cobb, the Rays have the opportunity to do so.
Acquire Asdrubal Cabrera or Jason Kubel
The shortstop position has been a weak area for the Rays for two years now, and picking up a star shortstop like Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera would be a very nice solution to the problem. The 27-year-old is one of baseball’s best offensive shortstops, posting a wOBA of over .330 and a wRC+ of over 110 for the past two seasons.
The Indians are looking for three to four— preferably four—prospects in exchange for him (per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer). The Rays have the pieces to make a deal like this happen, and Cleveland could really use some young starting pitching talent.
Over in Arizona, Justin Upton has been the main talk in Diamondbacks trade rumors so far this offseason, but now sources are saying that they may be shopping OF Jason Kubel instead. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Rays are one of multiple teams that could be a possible suitor for the veteran slugger.
Kubel had himself a very nice 2012 season, posting a .352 wOBA while hitting 30 homers and 90 RBI. Not only would Kubel add depth to the Rays’ outfield, but he would also be a perfect fit for the DH role.
Sign a catcher
One big area of need to address on Tampa’s roster is without a doubt at the catcher position. The four catchers that the Rays used this this year combined for an RBI total of just 65 without one reaching a wOBA as high as .290. Defensively, the four weren’t very good either.
The two main catchers on the roster (who were the team’s two catchers in 2012 as well) are Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. Molina had a poor season offensively last year, but did well throwing out baserunners and framing pitches, essentially helping out the pitching staff throughout the year. The main problem with Molina is that he’s 37, and can’t really provide the Rays with many innings.
Therefore, the team’s backup catcher is a crucial role. Lobaton is in that position right now, and he’s not the kind of guy the Rays would [or at least should] like playing 65+ games for them. Lobaton posted a .222/.323/.317 line last year with very little power while throwing out just 16% of would-be base-stealers.
Whether it’s via the trade market or free agent market, the Rays really need to sign a backstop this winter.
With the MLB offseason now in full swing, trade rumors around the baseball continue to heat up. With already one huge blockbuster trade made between Miami and Toronto earlier this week, it may not be long before the Rays finally trade someone from their plethora of talented starting pitchers.
James Shields is once again one of the central trade rumor names on the market for pitchers. The veteran right-hander will make more than $10 million in 2013, which is obviously a big dent in the Rays’ very limited payroll. Tampa’s also in search of offensive help, and they’ve made it clear that they’re open to trading away starters this winter, Shields being one of the most likely options.
Plenty of teams would love to add a pitcher like Shields to their rotation, and a few of those teams may have the necessary pieces to get the Rays to trade him away. Here are a few clubs in search of starting pitching who may have what it takes to acquire “Big Game James” this winter.
It seems the Texas Rangers are one team always seeking big-name starters on the free agent and trade market. The Rangers have the players to put together a deal for Shields, but their hesitance to trade away their offensive assets are the reason why they haven’t had any serious trade talks yet.
They have two young and talented shortstops on their roster in Jurickson Profar (considered baseball’s top prospect) and Elvis Andrus, either of which the Rays would love to have on their team. Texas has already considered trading away one of the two, and not many teams could use a solid shortstop as much as Tampa could.
If the Rangers were to attempt a Profar/Andrus-Shields, they would have to throw in a couple more players to complete the deal. Slugging first base prospect Mike Olt is one player that would likely be thrown into the deal plus maybe another outfielder (such as Julio Borbon, Craig Gentry or David Murphy).
If the Rays were offered a deal like this, they’d probably accept, but the real question is whether Texas is willing.
The Minnesota Twins’ saw their starting rotation have a miserable season in 2012, which is why nobody should be surprised to see them pursue rotation help this winter.
With a potential trade package featuring center fielder Denard Span, who’s name has constantly come up in trade rumors this fall, the Twins could probably snag Shields from the Rays. As fellow outfielder Ben Revere emerges as someone capable of taking over Span’s position, they would probably be willing to give him away for a player of Shields’ caliber.
With two or three solid prospects thrown into the mix, the Twins could very possibly bring Shields to Minnesota.
As you’ve probably heard, there’s been speculation recently of the Diamondbacks and the Rays joining for a blockbuster trade that would send star slugger Justin Upton to Tampa Bay. Some have suggested that the Rays trading Jeremy Hellickson and an additional prospect could work, but I believe a flat-out swap of just Upton and Shields could be a possibility as well.
Arizona could really use a pitching boost and the Rays need a bat like Upton’s more than anything.
As expected, B.J. Upton—as well as all eight other MLB eligibles—declined his $13.3 qualifying offer from the Rays Friday, officially making him a free agent. With B.J. Upton now surely not returning to Tampa Bay next season, there’s a lot of speculation of the Rays potentially making a serious run at younger brother Justin via trade.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Rays could potentially emerge as front-runners for Upton since the Texas Rangers continue to insist that they’re not willing to trade a shortstop (Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus) to the Diamondbacks in a trade for him. Rosenthal also suggests that the Rays could offer either Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields in addition to prospect Hak-Ju Lee if they were to deal for Upton.
More Rays News and Notes
- I personally like the idea of the Rays trading a pitcher and a prospect for a player at the caliber of Upton’s, but a recent article over at DRaysBay.com voices some legitimate concern over the 25-year-old star outfielder.
- Jim Hickey talks Rays starting rotation on WDAE.
- David Price continues his eventful fall, winning a PGA Pro-Am tournament (Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic) Friday. Below is his victory speech:
Entering the offseason, James Shields was expected to be the No. 1 trade rumor name of the Rays’ plethora of starting pitchers. Right now it doesn’t appear that way, however, as Jeremy Hellickson has drawn more interest than anybody else in the rotation so far (per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com). No team has yet to publicly announced that they’re pursuing Helly, but things could get interesting at the GM meeting this week.
As the MLB award season continues, more Rays players continue to take home hardware. David Price—who makes a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award (announced next week)—was chosen as the AL’s top pitcher by the players (Players Choice Awards) on Monday.
Also in award news, Jose Molina was named the Rays’ top defensive player by Wilson.
More Rays News and Notes:
- As expected, the Rays made their one-year qualifying offer ($13.3 million) to B.J. Upton last Friday.
- The Rays re-signed Joel Peralta for a two-year deal worth $6 million. The agreement includes a $2.5 million option for 2015.
- Bleacher Report looks at five potential teams that could trade for Hellickson.
- Minor League free agents have been announced. A handful of Rays players are featured on the list.
MLB announced the winners of the Gold Glove award yesterday, which featured two finalists from the Rays (Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson). Hellickson would win for the pitching position, which was also won by Jake Peavy as the two tied in the voting.
Here’s a list of all the winners, which unfortunately included terrible choices for centerfield in both the AL and NL (Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen).
In other Rays news, it looks as if the Rays will pick up the 2013 option on James Shields ($10.25 million) and Jose Molina ($1.8 million). Molina will be returning to Tampa Bay next season but Shields may not, as a blockbuster trade is still a realistic option for the Rays.
More News and Notes:
As the Fall Classic concludes and the 2012 baseball season comes to an end, it’s time to look forward into what the winter has in store for the Rays. Like last offseason, Andrew Friedman and the Rays will have some tough choices to make before players report to spring training.
First in line in Tampa’s offseason priorities is their club options, which must all be dealt with this week. Out of the four on the list, the only sure ‘yes’ is Fernando Rodney ($2.5 million). Next is Luke Scott, who hit just .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in 344 plate appearances this season. With that kind of production at DH and his lack of ability to stay healthy, the chances of the Rays bringing him back in 2013 for $6 million are very slim.
The Rays hold a $10.25 million on veteran James Shields, who will be one of the main storylines throughout the winter. If they decide not to pick up the option—which is very likely—than they’ll immediately look for suitable deals for a blockbuster trade. As much as the organization prides themselves on excellent starting pitching, they really could use some young offensive talent as well.
The toughest club option decision for the Rays will be Jose Molina. The 37-year-old catcher did a nice job with the pitching staff but didn’t produce well offensively (.284 wOBA through 274 PA’s). At $1.5 million, don’t be surprised to see the Rays exercise his option in order to bring his veteran presence back to the roster.
As for Tampa’s free agents this offseason, the list includes B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Ryan Roberts, Jeff Keppinger and J.P. Howell. It looks like the Rays will part ways with Upton after his many years of service, which means they’ll have one less outfielder in 2013. There is a question to as if the Rays will give Upton a qualifying offer (one year for $13.3 million), however, which would land them a compensatory draft pick if he declines. If the Rays do go ahead and extend a qualifying offer, chances are he’ll turn it down and hit the market in pursuit of a huge long-term team.
Carlos Pena—who hit an MLB-worst .197 with just 19 homers and 61 RBI—is another big name who will likely be missing from the lineup in 2013, meaning the Rays will likely shop the market again this winter for first basemen.
As for the rest of the FA’s, all have a pretty decent chance of returning next season. The Rays would love to bring back Jeff Keppinger after his suprisingly good 2012 season. Keppinger can play three different positions in the infield while serving as an excellent contact hitter who can get the job done at the plate. After hitting .325 last season in his 418 plate appearances, he should be able to earn more than the $1.5 million he made last year.
Ryan Roberts is another player that can provide some infield versatility as well as some power in his bat, and the Rays will probably work on re-signing him as well.
As for the bullpen, it will be interesting to see how they handle free agents Peralta, Farnsworth and Howell. I think it’s safe to say Howell will be back in the ‘pen next season after the fine comeback year he had, posting an ERA a tad over 3 in over 50 innings of work. As for Farnsworth and Peralta though, both are much more of a question mark at the age of 36.
The next offseason topic to talk about is how the Rays will adress their areas of need. The three main holes on the roster are at first base, catcher and DH. They’ll probably seek some help in the outfield, shortstop and in the bullpen as well.
Ben Zobrist made a smooth transition to shortstop towards the end of the year, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Rays decide to make him their starting shortstop next season or continue to search outside the organization. Either way, we can expect to see the Rays sign another middle infielder, such as a Jeff Keppinger or Ryan Roberts type player.
With James Shields and numerous talented pitching prospects, the Rays have the necessary pieces to make a trade that could fill up some of the gaps on the roster. 1B Ike Davis, SS Elvis Andrus, SS Yunel Escobar, C J.P. Arencibia, 1B Eric Hosmer and INF Jed Lowrie are all players who will probably be up for trade this winter.
There are a handful of FA options as well. James Loney seems to be a very realistic possibility at the moment. If the Red Sox decide not resign him—which is about a 50/50 chance—then he would definitely become an affordable option for the Rays at first base. 2B Skip Schumaker, INF Stephen Drew, 1B/DH Lance Berkman, OF Coco Crisp, RP Matt Capps, RP Ryan Madson and INF Maicer Izturis are other names to keep an eye on as well.