The Legacy of the Shields Trade

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Do you remember when 90% of Kansas City hated the “James Shields” – now known as the “Wade Davis,” trade?

Do you also remember when the Kansas City Royals won back-to-back American League Championships AND won the World Series?

Three years ago yesterday, David Glass and Dayton Moore went all in. It was the day that we put our big boy pants on, rather than continuing to live on hope and rainbows that the future will be better. On Dec. 9, 2012, the Kansas City Royals MADE their future better.

But, at the time, the majority of the Royals, much smaller “fan base” were against the trade. For whatever reason, we gave up too much, or whatever. It also signified a momentous change for the organization. It was time to WIN. GAMES.

The effects of the Wade Davis trade have been debated far and wide and wrote about many more times since its onset.

We liked the trade, immediately, but, the day after the trade, We wondered if we gave up too much for Shields for a chance to win now. We couldn’t have been more wrong. As early as one month into the James Shields era, the returns indicated the Royals were winning the tradeWe revisited it again in a Roundtable in 2014, when Shields was still a Royal. As recent as this postseason, we reminded people after Davis’ epic effort against the Blue Jays that they once hated the trade, but it was the trade that kept on giving (Because, Wade Davis), even after Shields was gone.

But, what were some of our initial reactions? Thanks to Facebook’s memories, we were able to scour some our writers and contributors and find some treasures.

First, Conrad McGorkin said:

Listening and reading to a lot today about how the Royals messed up here. Why? Is it wrong for them to finally try to win? James Shields isn’t Justin Verlander. He is however an excellent starting pitcher, with the 3rd most strikeouts, 2nd most innings, and most complete games in the MAJOR LEAGUES over the last 2 years. That’s a big deal. Bigger than Ron Burgandy, big deal.

This trade made the Royals better, for 2013 and probably 2014 as well. As fan’s that’s what we should want. Going out to Kauffman to see Runelvys Hernández match up with Johan Santana a few years ago, or Luis Mendoza vs. Justin Verlander last year was a miserable feeling. You felt like winning wasn’t even possible. If fans felt that way, wouldn’t you think that the players did too? Even if they would never say it? It brings the whole team down, when you know you’re outmatched in a big way.

Maybe everyone got too caught up in Mike Trout and Bryce Harper last year? That is NOT the norm with “big time” prospects. It RARELY happens that a prospect gets to the major leagues and just takes off. Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Mike Trout. Once every 5-10 years. I’m not saying Wil Myers won’t be awesome. He very well could be. We all thought Alex Gordon would make us forget George Brett when he was a “prospect”.  from his call up, until 2011, most of us may have been wondering if he could even last as a MLB regular, let alone be a quality player. It took Billy Butler time to become who he is now. We’re still waiting on Moustakas and Hosmer to be the superstars we all want. Chances are that Myers will start the year in the minors for the Rays, then come up and struggle. Just like the last 5-6 Royals “prospects”.

This is where we should want our Major league team to be, and what we should want them to be doing. Constantly waiting on a 21 year old to come save our team will never work out. Unless you’ve liked what we have been doing here for the past 12+ years? The farm system is in place to be used in 2 ways. The Royals just used it this time like a varsity team does.

In 2003 when the Royals finished just over .500, this town was going crazy. This teams talent and upside potential far exceeds anything on that roster. There should be REAL excitement for 2013 +. Not just “hope.”

And, I think I forget the most important part…we’re talking about the Royals in December.

Nailed it.

I said:

“The Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, the Royals top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, former top pitching prospect Mike Montgomery +1 more (Patrick Leonard) to TB for Big Game James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later (Elliot Johnson) – after letting settle in for a bit, Jim Bowden said it best when on radio here in KC earlier this week and said, and I paraphrase, “it’s winning time in KC, and they’re going to have to make a trade that hurts. They’ll get ripped for making it, but it’ll be something they have to do.”


Myers seems like the real deal. But, Shields is too. But so were how many other prospects? Odorizzi, by most experts is projected to be a No. 3 starter. Monty may never make it (but that is not our luck). I don’t like it giving up what we gave up, but I don’t think it is awful. Davis is really key for the deal since he in under control through 2017. If Myers is a 20-25 HR guy, then it’s OK. If he hits 40, well, then…

This is all new to us here in KC, but other teams, all across the league, do it all the time. But never the Minor League Player of the Year. Time will tell. I hope it works out. Pitching is the currency of baseball, and we needed it. I still think we gave up a lot. This also means Frenchy is in RF next year. But it also means we still have Gordon, Hoz, Moose, Perez and Esky plus four legit names in the rotation. When was the last time we could say that? Odorizzi might not have made the team out of the spring anyway and Chen looks to be our 5th starter and Hochevar has to be bye-bye unless he becomes an overpaid RP (this worked out…). And don’t forget Duffy and Paulino coming back at the break. Don’t freak out. It could work out. Even if Myers is a stud, it won’t matter if we don’t have pitching.

Odorizzi has now been traded as a team’s top pitching prospect…twice. And, Baseball Reference lists Zack Greinke as a comparable player to James Shields.”

It did work out. And, yes, Davis was key in this deal, but not in a way any of us had the foresight to imagine.

Tom Hanken:

“It’s a tough call. Initially, I think we overpaid, but we knew if they wanted to make a move, they would have to. I just didn’t think they’d overpay with prospects. There has been some rumblings that the Royals weren’t as high on Myers as some other teams. As far as Frenchy goes, that can find a right fielder on the scrap heap to come in and compete with him. Bottom line is they needed pitching and they went and got some. Shields, Santana, Guthrie, Paulino (when he’s ready), Chen and Duffy (when he’s ready) is a pretty interesting staff. With a lineup of Esky, Cain, Butler, Moose, Hosmer, Perez, Frenchy and whoever plays second. The Royals finally made a move that said, ‘lets win now.'”

Joe Hayles

“I love it. Davis is everything that Odorizzi might become, Montgomery may have peaked as a quality AAA guy and nothing more. So we’re losing several years of still to be proven in the show and Myers four a couple of years of a proven, legit MLB starter in Shields. Gotta make that jump to compete, sometime; looks like that time is now. Plus, can you imagine how much the city will rally around a competitive baseball team?!?!? A couple years of winning baseball leads to big crowds and more money to use to keep or replace Shields in a couple years…For those unhappy with trading Myers, you know who else was a Royals super-prospect No. 1 Draft pick her of the town? Luke Hochevar. After the initial shock, I’m more and more in favor with every passing hour.

Ryan Acosta-Fox:

“Another thing that’s worth thinking about this trade: we traded for hundreds of innings at the major league level for four guys who’ve played about five combined innings in the majors (Odorizzi, of course). I’m just failing to see how this is the “worst trade in history” (according to Rob Neyer). That’s assuming every possible thing breaks right for the guys we sent. I mean, the stat heads were assuming the exact opposite before yesterday.

I guess the rebuttal here is Moore could have done better than Shields? I’d like to know what deal that would be because I imagine it’d involve giving up similar guys or loosing the purse strings in a way that (David) Glass has shown won’t happen. I’m fine complaining about Glass but that’s been getting old and boring for a while now, so frankly let’s try something new. If Moore decimated us then I’d be pissed, but he kept every hitter in our organization that matters outside of Myers,

Apparently Rob Neyer forgot about the Ed Hearn trade?

And apparently Justin Rhodes leaned with the 90% of Royals fans that hated the trade:

“You guys are seriously overvaluing Shields. The guy is 32 years old, has pitched 477 innings in the last two year and has a career ERA of 3.90. The Royals screwed up big time, again! If we would have got Price, well, that’s a different story. But, we didn’t. Instead, the Rays traded their oldest starting pitcher. I agree we had to do something to address the rotation here in KC, but we got the short end on this deal. Hope he has a lot left in the tank! Liptstick on a pig, boys.”

“Turns out Myers has been JAG, and Wade Davis is a cyborg,” Justin said today. “We won this trade.”

JD’s take was:

“On paper prospects are good. We have youth, we have a bullpen, we have the bats (although last year’s bats weren’t good…I attribute that to the frustration of being a doormat), our defense is as good around the diamond as anyone else and the bats CAN be the best in the division. We now have three pitchers that didn’t pitch here last year, re-signed J-Guts and have some choices in how our rotation plays out. I cannot remember that last time I could say that. Odorizzi MAY be GREAT some day, Myers may go on to be great, too, but Myers will never be missed. Bottom line is it is ABOUT EFFING TIME our front office showed true interest in winning and putting a quality product on the field, and this trade says that. What will the litmus test be on this deal? I don’t feel it is playoffs or bust next year, but maybe the next. I truly feel this is as close to a chance that we have had in years. I’m super stoked.”

Luke Goosen said:

“The Royals gave up too much…but it was totally worth it. The point of this trade isn’t about WAR or numbers, it is about a change of culture and expectations. You want a culture of winning? Draw a line and say you are now. It could fail, but it’s bold. It’s time to produce now. It ripples throughout the entire organization. I mean, what is the incentive for the Royals minor leaguers? There wasn’t any urgency at all…no incentive. Now, there is a desire for players to move up, to get better, get prepared. They might actually be NEEDED instead of setting some arbitrary date down the road where they might debut for a 100-loss team.The need for the talent to produce becomes a real thing. This trade, for me, is all about one thing: Expectation.”

Adam Vaughn said:

“I think its a great trade. Proven big league talent that’s still in their prime for prospects. We have been wanting them to do something like this for years. It may not work, but so glad to see them trying something new for a change.”

Nailed it.

As Conrad always says…prospects come and go, (championship) flags fly forever.


Hanging flags and winning games (and championships) the Royals have done – 270-216, one AL Central Championship, 2 World Series appearances and one WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. This trade laid the foundation for it to happen.


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Author: Brian Graham

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