Kansas City Royals Gamble That James Shields Can Help Them Win Now

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IDecember 10, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 28:  James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 28, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Alas, the Wil Myers era was never to be in Kansas City. The Kansas City Royals dealt the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year to the Tampa Bay Rays in an effort to stop thinking about the future and try to win now.

According to the Associated Press (via SportsIllustrated.CNN.com) James Shields, who finished third in the Cy Young vote in 2011, was sent packing to Kansas City along with another established big league arm, Wade Davis.

The Royals suddenly have a No. 1 starter and a No. 4 starter. In the same Associated Press release, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said "it's time for [the Royals] to start winning at the major league level."

Shields will most certainly help in 2013. The pitcher called "Big Game James" has delivered six straight 200-inning seasons. A subpar 2010 is the only blemish on his resume.

He is consistently among the league leaders in strikeouts, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratios and complete games. He is as reliable a starter as one can find in the American League and should take some pressure off the likes of Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Davis in the rotation.

The price was steep. Wil Myers is as close to a can't-miss prospect as one can get. Did the Royals just give up on their Bryce Harper or Mike Trout by shipping off Myers?

Pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi was also sent to Tampa Bay. He was one of the key pieces in the Zack Greinke-to-the-Milwaukee Brewers deal before the 2011 season. He was one of the Royals' top prospects.

While those players may come back to haunt the Royals for years to come, Kansas City is done thinking about prospects. The Royals must be looking at the upstart Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles of last year and thinking "That can be us. Let's try to win now."

This trade is a big step toward winning in 2012 with no concern for 2013.

The Royals are thinking in the present tense.

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