The hype-to-reality ratio on the Rangers' off-season has been a bit out of kilter of late, with Texas being rumored to be in on virtually every big name and nothing really actualizing to this point ... and now, tonight, things have taken an even greater turn for the strange, as the Rays have traded RHP James Shields and RHP Wade Davis to the Royals in exchange for OF Wil Myers, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery, and RHP Patrick Leonard.
Shields is, well, Shields -- a good, but not great No. 2-3 type starter with two remaining years of club control. Davis is a back-end starter with five additional years of club control who was converted into a usable relief asset during the 2011-12 off-season, although indications are that the Royals intend to convert Davis back into a starting pitcher. Myers is universally regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball (both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America placed him among their top three mid-season 2012 prospects), as someone who profiles as a significant long-term asset in a COF spot. Odorizzi has already achieved a taste of the majors, and figures to settle in as a long-term No. 3-4 starter, which at least gives him a shot at being a more valuable rotation asset in 2013 than Davis. Montgomery has fallen quite a ways from his position as the Royals' pre-2012 No. 1 prospect, but is still young, and has some hope of turning things around.
It's the sort of trade where you understand the thinking that compelled each side to push their stack of chips across the table (the Royals, and more specifically Dayton Moore, want to win now, while Andrew Friedman feels that the long-term value of their haul supersedes Shields/Davis) -- but, at the same time, you're left feeling somewhat wistful over the fact that Texas couldn't be involved in some form or fashion. Shields isn't the end-all, be-all of rotation pieces, but he would have bolstered the Rangers' 2013 starting rotation in a meaningful way, and with several reports indicating that Shields was the club's No. 2 pitching target, they're now going to have to move on to their No. 3-and-below targets.
Myers, meanwhile, would have represented a long-term solution to a long-term area of need (COF), and no, there was never really anything out there directly linking Myers to the Rangers ... but it was a nice thought, nevertheless.
The Royals are being targeted with criticism from all corners for pulling the trigger on an all-in type move when they likely won't be close enough to 85-90 wins over 2013-14 for a short-term, all-in type move to work, and, ultimately, I don't think the debate over the merits of this trade will end up treating Dayton Moore and company particularly kindly. From the Rangers' vantage point, however, this trade effectively strikes another name off the top of their off-season acquisition wish list, and leave them in a position where the best starting pitching options still lingering out there are R.A. Dickey -- for whom the Mets are reportedly demanding a Mike Olt-plus package -- and Anibal Sanchez, who will likely command $75-plus million guaranteed at his signing date within the next month.