Royals land Shields for Myers and more: Good move for Kansas City?

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Royals land Shields for Myers and more: Good move for Kansas City?

Kansas City made a splash Sunday night, acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay for a package of prospects headlined by 22-year-old slugging phenom Wil Myers and pitching prospect Jake Orodizzi. The Royals, whose starters own the American League's highest combined ERA since 2004, needed pitching. There's no questioning that.

But the price Kansas City paid wasn't just high, it was exorbitant. They're getting, at most, two years of Shields and potentially missing out on six years of Myers andor Odorizzi, most of which will come at an inexpensive price. Myers, who turns 22 Monday, hit 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season with a .987 OPS and is regarded as one of the premier offensive prospects in baseball.

Odorizzi, considered the best player Kansas City received from Milwaukee in 2010's Zack Greinke trade, posted a 3.03 ERA with 135 strikeouts, 50 walks and 14 home runs allowed between Double-A and Triple-A. He was one of Kansas City's top two pitching prospects, a guy who maybe could've begun contributing in the majors as early as the 2013 season.

The Royals also gave up struggling former top prospect Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard, described as a sleeper by Minor League Ball's John Sickels. The Rays did well for themselves in this trade, that's for sure.

If those last numbers were reversed, perhaps this deal makes more sense. Davis saw success out of Tampa Bay's bullpen in 2012 but didn't blossom as a starter over three prior years in the Rays' rotation. If Davis remains a reliever, he'll be an expensive one -- Davis will earn 2.8 million in 2013 and 4.8 million in 2014 before options of 7 million, 8 million and 10 million kick in through 2017 (although the first two club options don't have buyouts). Chances are, though, he'll slide in to Kansas City's rotation as their No. 3 or No. 4 starter.

But the real get here for Kansas City is Shields, and getting him puts an immense amount of pressure on the Royals to win in the next two years.

Shields can do his part -- he was a Cy Young candidate in 2011 and a solid No. 2 starter in 2012 -- but the rest of the team will have to take a step forward. Improvements from the team's highly-touted young corner infielders would be a good start.

Eric Hosmer's OPS dropped from .799 in his rookie year to .663 in 2012, but if he regains the elite hitting track he was on 12 months ago it'll provide a massive boost to the Royals' lineup. And if Mike Moustakas can begin to develop as a solid hitter, he'll be one of baseball's more valuable third baseman given his already-outstanding defense.

Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are two of the better players at their respective positions, while Salvador Perez looks like an excellent young catcher. The Royals' problem hasn't been its lineup, though -- over the last four seasons, their offense has rated in the middle of the pack -- it's been the rotation.

A rotation of Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Davis, Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen is hardly bad. But for the Royals to be more than mediocre in 2013, they'll need Guthrie to sustain some level of the success he had after being acquired last summer and Santana to show his bad 2012 (5.16 ERA, league-leading 39 HR allowed) was an anomaly. Having Davis take a step forward and trend more toward being a middle of the rotation starter instead of a back-end guy would be big, too, if he does start.

The Royals have an impressive stable of power arms in their bullpen, too -- but that won't do them any good if their starters can't hand the ball over with a lead.

Kansas City's window to win wasn't in 2013 before this trade. Maybe 2014 was when they took a step forward, with a few more top prospects getting comfortable in the majors.

It's been a long rebuilding process at Kauffman Stadium, though, one that has been underway for seemingly decades. They're loaded with prospects, and while Myers and Odorizzi are blue-chippers, maybe could afford to trade them for more win-now pieces.

But the Rays only get Shields, who turns 31 later this month, for two seasons. If the Royals don't win with Shields, this trade will look like a bust no matter what Myers, Odorizzi & Co. amount to in St. Pete.

The point is, on the surface, Kansas City didn't capitalize on the value of Myers and Odorizzi, mainly Myers. Trading him for two years of a starting pitcher north of 30 was a bold move, and one that's led to a pretty vitriolic response from a fan base starved for success.

Think about that. A move that's designed to bring success quickly has rankled a fan base that's dealt with the longest playoff drought in baseball.

The window to win in Kansas City is cracked open. But whether it's wide enough for the Royals to squeeze through remains to be seen.

White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Those pesky, persistent trade rumors continue to be no match for White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana. 

The 2016 All-Star was outstanding on Thursday afternoon as he made his first Cactus League appearance in nearly a month. Still waiting on word if he'll be the team's Opening Day starter, Quintana pitched seven scoreless innings against a thin Cincinnati Reds lineup in a 4-2 White Sox victory at Camelback Ranch. 

Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts, Quintana limited Cincinnati to two hits in a 79-pitch outing and struck out three.

"I just try to turn the page quick and keep going," Quintana said. "Never watch behind me and try to go ahead every time I can. I want to put my team in a good position to win games. It's good when you win games in spring training. It brings good energy for the season."

Quintana on Thursday followed the same format he did for Colombia against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Reds hitters he faced. Even after he surrendered a hit, Quintana got back to work. Featuring a fastball that sat between 91-93 mph early, Quintana had Cincinnati hitters off-balance all day. After he exited the game, Quintana sprinted to the right-field bullpen to throw 15 more pitches as he continues to build arm strength.

The outing is more of the same consistency the White Sox have come to expect from their trusted lefty. It's also why they refuse to remove the high sticker price attached to Quintana, who has competed at least 200 innings the past four seasons with a 3.32 overall ERA in that span.

As Opening Day approaches, the White Sox continue to listen to offers for Quintana but have refused to budge on their price. Manager Rick Renteria said on Wednesday he needed a few more days before naming his starter for the April 3 opener, which suggests the team would still trade Quintana at this late date. But unless one of the team's suitors finally antes up, it's hard to believe that anyone other than Quintana would take the mound against the Detroit Tigers when the 2017 season kicks off at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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Quintana is on target to pitch again Tuesday, though perhaps in a minor league game as the White Sox face Kansas City that day. His next turn would come on April 2, which would easily afford the team the chance to push him back one day. 

Giving Quintana the nod in the opener would be the latest honor bestowed upon him. Earlier this month, Quintana dominated the eventual WBC champion as he didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning. That performance came after an outstanding campaign in which Quintana finally appeared in an All-Star Game.

All of the above has Quintana feeling pretty good about his abilities. 

"I have confidence in me, and every time I go out there I just try to have fun and enjoy that time," Quintana said. "I spend good time with my teammates. Every time I go to the mound, I feel pretty good."

Nicky Delmonico homered and singled in a run in the victory for the White Sox. He drove in three runs and hit his third homer of the spring. Leury Garcia also had two hits and made a pair of nice defensive plays at second base.

With first big contract in hand, Tim Anderson planning a run to the Pepsi machine

With first big contract in hand, Tim Anderson planning a run to the Pepsi machine

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tim Anderson plans to buy one very expensive Pepsi.

When it comes time to make his first big purchase, the White Sox shortstop already has a good idea what he's going to do.

As he quickly rose through the minors, Anderson — who signed a six-year deal Tuesday that could pay him $50.5 million through 2024 — talked to his mother about her retiring if he ever reached the big leagues. But all Lucille Brown joked that she has wanted from Anderson is a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. Anderson said on Thursday morning that he intends to make good on his promise and then some.

"She always told me, 'I don't want anything from you, I just wish you the best. The only thing I want from you is for you to buy me a Pepsi,'" Anderson said. "Pepsi is her favorite soda. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to buy her a Mercedes and I'm going to buy a Pepsi and put it in the cup holder for her."

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An outpatient healthcare worker, Brown and her husband Roger — who are Anderson's aunt and uncle — raised Anderson along with their three children. Anderson said he and Brown have discussed her retirement over the past few years and will broach the topic again in the future.

If Lucille decides to retire, Anderson thinks she might take up decorating houses, which she did for the second-year player after he recently purchased a home in North Carolina. But for now, Anderson wants to take care of his family for helping him attain his goal of playing in the big leagues, which led to the "life-changing" contract.

"I think she's going to retire," Anderson said. "We haven't picked up on that conversation yet, but we'll talk about it.

"I feel like nothing but good people have been in my circle from the time that I got drafted."