Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Not all teams have the resources to be a
contender each and every year, to rebuild on the fly and still field a club
capable of winning ballgames and getting into the playoffs.
A vast majority of franchises need to bide their time, build from within and
wait for the right time to strike.
The Kansas City Royals feel that time is now.
The Royals pulled off one of the bigger moves this offseason that doesn't
involve the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving up some of baseball's top prospects to
acquire from the Tampa Bay Rays pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. In
Shields, Kansas City gets a No. 1 for its staff and a veteran who could help
the club return to the playoffs for the first time in 28 years.
The minor league system has been viewed as a strength for the Royals, but
general manager Dayton Moore opted to move four of his young guys -- highly-
regarded outfielder Wil Myers, pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and
third baseman Patrick Leonard -- who might have helped in the future for a
pair of players who can help now.
Shields, who turns 31 on Dec. 20, won 16 games during an All-Star season in
2011, finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting thanks to a 2.82 earned run
average. His numbers were off a bit last season, 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA over 33
starts, but the man known as "Big Game James" is one of only four pitchers in
baseball to record at least 220 strikeouts over the past two seasons.
The others? Just some guys named Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Justin
Verlander. Not a bad group to share a drink or two with.
Davis is no throw-in either. The 27-year-old won a total of 23 games in
2010-11 before posting an excellent 2.43 ERA in 54 games as a reliever last
Though Kansas City struggled to score runs last season, its .265 collective
batting average was tied for the fourth best in the American League and Moore
has to figure that his young sluggers Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Salvador
Perez will all take a step forward and form a solid lineup core with Billy
Butler and Alex Gordon.
The Royals also had the fourth-best ERA of any AL club a season ago among
relievers, but their starters ranked near the bottom in wins and ERA. So,
Moore made upgrading the rotation his top priority and has done so by
combining Sunday's trade for Shields and Davis with an earlier move to acquire
hurler Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Oct. 31.
Those three will head the rotation that returns consistent veteran lefty Bruce
Chen and Jeremy Guthrie, who went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts last year
for Kansas City after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies in the middle
of the season.
"If you're going to win consistently in the major leagues, you have to have a
rotation that's going to give you innings and compete and give you a chance to
win," Moore told Kansas City's official website. "That's what our goal is, to
put together a very good rotation and we feel like we've been able to do
With a revamped rotation, the Royals hope to contend in one of the more wide-
open divisions. Sure, the reigning Central-champion Detroit Tigers made it to
the World Series, but their 88 wins were also the fewest of any playoff team
in the American League.
Kansas City hasn't had a winning season since 2003 and its last playoff game
came when the franchise won Game 7 of the 1985 World Series against the St.
Louis Cardinals. So, Moore opted to move some young talent for a chance to win
The Royals traded two of their top three prospects, with Myers ranking as the
third-best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, which also had Odorizzi
listed as the 30th.
Those two could help the Rays win some games down the road, but neither are a
lock to begin the season on Tampa Bay's major league roster.
The other key word there is "could." While teams need to stock talent through
the draft to stay competitive, there is something to be said in acquiring
established stars too, such as Shields, who isn't exactly filling out an AARP
application yet either.
"It's time for us as an organization to win at the major league level and we
have to use all our resources. Our farm system is certainly one of them,"
Moore told the Royals' website.
Kansas City may have lost control of some young players who may turn into All-
Stars, but the future has no guarantees. Instead, Moore turned a resource into
And the Central Division better get ready for another contender.
The Sports Network