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2012 Hot Stove: What the James Shields Trade Means for the Toronto Blue Jays

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2012 Hot Stove: What the James Shields Trade Means for the Toronto Blue Jays
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a beautiful trade in terms of payroll. James Shields, Wade Davis and their $11.8 million are travelling to the Midwest and Kauffman Stadium for a package of top prospects. Considering Tampa Bay's minuscule, guaranteed payroll of only $40 million, this trade was a huge salary dump. 

But does this mean the Tampa Bay Rays are of any less competition to the Toronto Blue Jays?

Yes and by a good margin.

Shields is a strikeout machine, but when Shields isn't getting those strikeouts, he is getting hurt by Blue Jays batters. The current Blue Jays roster has hit Shields with 15 HR in just 226 ABs—five of those home runs have come from Adam Lind alone.

Shields has an impressive record against Toronto despite this Home Run Derby-like production—he still managed to hold the Blue Jays to a 2.70 ERA and has a 5-1 record against the bluebirds over the last three years.

Davis is a similar story with a 3.12 ERA and 5-3 record.

Tampa Bay has given up two Blue Jay crushers despite the improvements Toronto has made over the offseason—is it a reason for celebration?

No, it's not time for that, yet.

Tampa Bay still has a formidable starting five consisting of:

1) Cy Young Award WinnerDavid Price

2) Rookie of the Year Award WinnerJeremy Hellickson

3) Previous No. 1 Rated ProspectMatt Moore

4) Alex Cobb

5) Jeff Niemann

Also, with $11.8 million more to play with now, Andrew Friedman has the potential to sign or trade for a power bat that could help Evan Longoria with the anemic offense they have. The Blue Jays are winners coming out of this trade as of today, but it might not be long before the Rays make some improvements.

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