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Can Royals compete now with Shields and Davis?

By December 11, 2012

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Two small-market teams made a big deal on Sunday night, and the reaction to it shows how savvy baseball fans have become: The team that got the established players has fans who just might be more upset about it.

The Kansas City Royals picked up starters James Shields and Wade Davis, boosting a rotation that suddenly looks pretty decent in a division that's the worst in baseball. But they gave up prospects -- their best two in outfielder Will Meyers and putcher Jake Odorizzi -- and picked up a lot of salary to do it. Shields, the Rays' all-time leader in wins (at least until David Price passes him in a year or two) will make $10.25 million and Davis $2.8 million next season.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes that Royals fans are trained to hate this deal because they aren't used to these win-now kind of trades.

Writes Mellinger: "For years -- decades? -- the Royals have had hope and Sluggerrr and not much else to sell. They've had tomorrow. Next year. What's coming is better than what's here."

It doesn't help that the trade was with the Rays, a front office with a great reputation for evaluating talent. If they're giving up on Shields and Davis, what's wrong with them?

"Personally I think this is the most difficult trade we've made to date," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to the Tampa Bay Times. "Both guys were drafted and developed here. They've been key players in this organization's turnaround, and they're both high quality people. It's a painful loss for our club, but I'm confident in our resilience and the talent that will be returning to the field next season."

So who got the better of this deal? This is obviously one in which we'll have to check back in a few years.

The Rays play in the toughest division in baseball, and the Royals play in the easiest. So which team has the best chance to make the playoffs next year?

Yeah, it's still probably the Rays. And that's the rub.

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