The Kansas City Royals made one of the biggest trades of the offseason. Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers and three other prospects were shipped to Tampa Bay for James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson. Entering 2013, the Royals will feature a revamped rotation to go with their mostly homegrown lineup.
To get the starting pitching the Royals lacked, GM Dayton Moore had to part with a prospect of Myers caliber. Myers is considered a top five prospect in all of baseball after clubbing 37 home runs between Double and Triple A in 2012. The Royals also parted with pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and third base prospect Patrick Leonard in the deal.
The high price Moore paid for pitchers Shields and Davis was necessitated by the prohibitive cost of free agent pitching. Shields gives Kansas City a legitimate number one starting pitcher for the next two years at a reasonable $21 million. Shield has at least 200 IP each year since 2007. Over the past two years he is 31-22 with a 3.14 ERA while averaging 8.5 K/9 IP. He finished third in the 2011 Cy Young voting.
Wade Davis is a quality arm who was the odd man out of the Devil Rays starting rotation in 2012. After two decent years starting, he appeared in 54 games out of the bullpen with a .189 BAA. In 2010 and 2011 he went 23-20 with a 4.26 ERA in 352 IP while averaging 5.9K/9 IP. Davis is under the Royals control until 2017, and is owed only $7.6 million over the next two years.
The Royals added Ervin Santana in a trade with Anaheim. Santana’s career topped out in 2008 when he pitched to a 1.12 WHIP and averaged 8.8 K/9 IP. In 2011-2012 Santana’s record was 20-25 with a 3.75 ERA in 451 IP. During the last two seasons his strikeout ratio dropped to 6.2 K/9 IP.
“The second half last year after we got Guthrie, after his first two starts we made some adjustments and he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.”
Guthrie went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts for the Royals after being acquired from the Rockies mid season. With the Orioles in 2010-2011, he had a 20-31 record, but a respectable 4.08 ERA.
Right handed reliever Dan Wheeler was signed to a minor league contract. From 2004 through 2011 he was a quality set up man at stops in Houston, Tampa Bay and Boston. He struggled in Cleveland last year, but could be a valuable addition to the Royals pen.
The position players added during the offseason will battle for roster spots. Elliot Johnson was added in the Shields trade. He is a valuable utility player who can play 2B/SS/3B and should make the roster. Former MVP Miguel Tejada faces an uphill battle to make the team, he last played in 2011 and is battling for a reserve infield/PH role. Endy Chavez was signed to a minor league contract. Chavez has been a quality fourth outfielder much of his career but slumped to a .203 average/.516 OPS in 2012.
After years of patiently developing their team, GM Dayton Moore and the Royals will now try to go toe to toe with the rest of the AL Central. The homegrown quartet of Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler will lead the offense while the rotation tries to hold up its end of the bargain. Shields, Davis and Guthrie have all spent significant time in the AL East, so they should be able to handle the lineups in the AL Central.
For the first time in many years the Royals enter a season looking to compete. Though catching the Tigers may be a tall order, the fans at Kauffman Field may catch wild card fever this summer.