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Royals Strengthen Rotation in Trade with Rays

 

Kansas City Royals hats & merchandise Don’t look now, but the 2012 race for the American League Central Division crown may have gotten a little more interesting on Monday following a trade between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Royals will receive two right-handed pitchers in the deal, James Shields and Wade Davis; in return they will send their top hitting prospect, outfielder Wil Myers as well as two pitching prospects and one third base prospect to Tampa. The deal gives the Royals a strong starting rotation that was already bolstered this offseason by the acquisition of Ervin Santana and the re-signing of Jeremy Guthrie. If the season started tomorrow, the Royals rotation would be Shields, Santana, Guthrie, Bruce Chen and Davis, with youngster and future star Luke Hochevar a possible candidate to take one of the spots, and certainly a guy who can step up and deliver results in case of an injury to any of their starting five.

Last season, Davis, 27, was bumped from the Rays’ starting rotation but performed very well out of their bullpen posting a 2.43 ERA in 70 1/3 innings of work. Davis brings with him a contract that could keep him with the Royals through the 2017 season, with a salary that is expected to average around $15-million over the next three seasons, and team options for 2016 and 2017. At 30-years old, Shields brings with him a lot of experience, pitching 477 innings over the past two seasons, the second most innings pitched in all of baseball. Shields posted a record of 31-22 with a 3.15 ERA during that time, and he could be looked upon to be the club’s ace next season.

The move gives the Royals a legitimate chance to contend in a division that looks to have one or two other teams that will finish the season above .500. Detroit will be the team to beat, and the White Sox should improve from last season’s ups-and-downs. Cleveland and Minnesota have still not made any major moves this offseason, and without major improvements to either club, they are likely to fight it out for last place again in 2013. The Rays seem to be going in the opposite direction however, and have dealt away several key pieces of their ball club to restock their farm system. With Toronto now looking like a much better ball club, Boston making key acquisitions and both New York and Baltimore expected to come back strong next season, the Rays may be the odd-men out in the division and appear to be moving further towards a rebuilding season. The Royals have been in a perpetual rebuilding mode for the better part of two decades, and they look to be finally putting the pieces together this offseason to make some noise in their division next season, building a team with solid starting pitching, and a potent, young offense.

 


 

By: Robert Gonzalez
MLBcenter.com Staff Writer

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