Some of you are probably absolutely livid about the thought of trading the Royals ace while some of you are applauding the idea because you just don’t think the Royals can actually make the playoffs this season. What I’m about to propose should appeal to both sides of the argument, and it should be noted that it’s a risky maneuver that I doubt the Royals would ever do, but I think it’s too good of an idea not to share. I also recognize that it’s likely my head playing in a fantasy world, but sometimes it’s okay to have fun like that and share it with my wonderful reader(s). So yes, I’m proposing that the Royals trade James Shields.
And then I’m proposing that they turn around and trade for David Price.
I’ll let you catch your breath.
You might be asking yourself what I first asked myself when the idea popped into my head and it’s why a team would trade for Shields and let the Royals acquire Price when the original team could just go out and get David Price. That’s a great question and a fair one, but can actually be answered realistically. James Shields is going to be far less expensive in terms of both prospects and dollars than David Price will be. Shields is a free agent in three months. Any team acquiring James Shields is renting him for that time and potentially getting an opportunity to negotiate with him if they think they can sign him to the deal he wants. Of course, Shields has also never gone through free agency, so that might not be possible for even the richest of teams. The other reason a team might trade for Shields instead of just trading for Price is that the Rays may not want to trade with certain teams in need of pitching (*cough Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays cough cough*). Or if they do, they’d require far more in return than they would of a team trading for Price outside of their division.
So my next question to myself was if this would be a three team trade or if it would be two separate trades. I think it would have to be a three team deal, which might make it harder to consummate, but could still work out for both sides. For example, if the Royals were to strike up a conversation with the Yankees and the Rays, something could be worked out on all fronts that would make everybody happy. The Yankees are desperately in need of starting pitching. Masahiro Tanaka can’t do it all. With C.C. Sabathia hurt, Ivan Nova out for the year and Hiroki Kuroda up and down, they’re in a bad way. They could really use James Shields. The Rays don’t have any young catching and would want some young pitching to come back their way in any deal for David Price. Enter Gary Sanchez, one of the Yankees top prospects. He happens to be blocked by Brian McCann who the Yankees just signed to a long-term deal. Trade Sanchez and another part for James Shields, ship Sanchez, two of Almonte, Zimmer, Manaea and another piece like a Cheslor Cuthbert, Jason Adam or Jorge Bonifacio to Tampa Bay and bring back David Price. Maybe even ask for Ben Zobrist too. It never hurts to ask, right?
This move, and just about every other potential move that has piqued my interest takes both 2014 and 2015 into consideration. From the Royals perspective, by trading away James Shields and picking up David Price, it actually helps to keep their window open a little bit longer. Some might argue that their window in 2015 would still be open with or without James Shields because of the development of Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy, but it never hurts to have a legitimate, Cy Young candidate ace to put at the front of your rotation. While Price isn’t having his best season this year, he is a workhorse who gets a ton of strikeouts and doesn’t walk batters. In his last five starts, he’s back to David Price from throwing 38.1 innings with 49 strikeouts and five walks. Those aren’t typos. He has a 2.58 ERA in those five starts.
Yes, it would hurt to give up two of their top pitching prospects, but that’s where that development of Ventura and Duffy comes into play for the future. Plus, if you’re going to acquire a guy like David Price, the trade is going to hurt on some levels I’ll never say the Royals don’t need pitching prospects, but to have two young starters who seem to be picking it up quickly certainly helps right that ship. Add in Jason Vargas and the Royals can stand to trade a couple of their future potential studs in an effort to acquire someone who has already reached that status. Trading Shields helps to limit the burden on payroll this year and to limit the burden on prospect cost as the Royals can turn and flip one of the prospects acquired from trading away James Shields. Looking forward to next year, David Price is probably worth $18 million to $19 million in arbitration. That’s an addition of about $5 million on this year’s payroll in replacing Shields, but if Price can help lead the Royals to the playoffs, that money is very much worth it. For this season, they’re effectively the same cost. Even if the Royals decide they don’t want to/can’t pay that price, Price could be traded in the off-season, which would recoup at least some of what was lost when they traded for him. If Ventura and Duffy keep progressing, that might even be the best option of all of them.
So no, the Royals probably aren’t going to do anything like this, but a little creativity could go a long way toward the Royals improving their roster to make a playoff push in 2014. I think they have a chance to compete in future seasons, but I also think that this has a chance to be their best chance to make the playoffs. While they don’t need Price, anywhere you can make an upgrade is important, and it’s hard to argue that Price isn’t an upgrade over James Shields, as good as Shields is. I mentioned Zobrist above, and he’d be a nice get in a deal like with the intention of him slotting in as the right fielder for now and maybe be the super utility guy who plays every day in 2015. It’s that time of year, the time to talk trades and just throw ideas against a wall to see what sticks. This idea, though, could benefit the Royals, Rays and whoever would end up with James Shields.
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