Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 10/21/14
Unlike in any other sport, MLB franchises constantly trade proven Major League talent for unproven Minor League players. This is completely different than trading for draft picks in the NFL or NBA. In baseball, a franchise is trading for a player based on what they did against sub-par competition and the promise of what they can do in the future, but most of which will never make it to the big leagues. The trade between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays is one of those trades that warrant the question, “Now or Future?” The Rays traded their number 2 starter James Shields and forgotten starter Wade Davis to Kansas City. In return, the Royals will send top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi along with Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to Tampa. From the trade, the Royals now have the starting rotation they have coveted for so long as they add Shields and Davis with Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie for a very solid 4-man rotation. The Rays will get an outfielder that they can control for at least 6 years at the Major League level. Royals Top Prospect Wil Meyers Photo Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Myers and Odorizzi were the number 1 and 5 prospect in the Royals system, respectively. Prospects ranked that high are typically viewed as sure things. But Montgomery used to be that player. He was the 5th ranked prospect in the Royals system before the 2011 season but the last 2 years he regressed. In 2011 and 2012 combined he had a 10-23 record with a 5.70 ERA. Montgomery was even named the 2010 “Top Prospect of the Decade” for the Royals, a title held in other years by Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Zack Greinke. . Montgomery went from being someone seen as a sure thing to an unknown entity. You never know what the future holds, he could turn into the next David Price for Tampa, or he could turn into a pitcher like Rick Ankiel who lost the ability to throw pitches for strikes. Photo Credit: DAVID EULITT This could be that I have been alienated by the Yankees’ moves of the last 15ish years, but personally I like the trade a lot for the Royals. They got James Shields who can be the ace of the Royals staff and Wade Davis who is a good Major League starter who simply got lost in the amazing depth of starting pitching the Rays have. Shields has thrown over 200 innings in each of his 6 full seasons in the majors. He has an 81-65 record with a 3.80 ERA in those 6 years. Shields has shown that he can pitch in big games, earning the nickname “Big Game James”. Davis was moved to the bullpen last year after two years as a starter where he went 23-20 with a 4.26 ERA, respectable numbers for a 4th or 5th starter. Davis was not moved to the bullpen because he was under performing, he was moved to the bullpen because of pitchers like Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Jeff Niemann. With that being said, Davis had the best season of his career last year in the bullpen. He was 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA. After a year in the bullpen, he should have regained his confidence to be able to put up good seasons for the Royals. Also, Davis is the Royals control until 2016 when he becomes a free agent. And look at what they are giving up, 4 minor leaguers. Yes, Wil Myers was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year but how he will translate to the Majors is unknown. The same with Jake Odorizzi, he has thrown a total of 152 pitches and 7 1/3 innings in the show. How does anyone know if he will be a great or even OK starting pitcher? When the Yankees made the trade for Curtis Granderson a few years ago, they traded their top prospect Austin Jackson. I was a huge fan of the trade from day one. For the record, I said right away that Granderson would hit at least 40 home runs a year playing in Yankee Stadium. The scouting report on Austin Jackson said that at his best he would be… you guessed it, Curtis Granderson. So why risk it with the unknown commodity? Get what you know. So they did. You can debate whether the trade was good or bad because Jackson has shown that he can play at a major league level. But why would you wait and see that Jackson could be Granderson when you can go get Granderson. Yes, the Rays are getting a lot of potential in return. But that is what it really is, potential. Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Mike Montgomery could turn out to be the next Those are the trades that are remembered forever. Nobody ever remembers the trades that didn’t work out. Fans look back now in disbelief when they see that the Mets traded one of the best pitchers of all time. Maybe Wil Myers will be a stud. But for every player like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, there are a lot more that do not pan out, like Chad Mottola and Brien Taylor. -Goldberg
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