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Analysis: James Shields deal for Wil Myers is a home run for the Rays

10:52 AM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
Wil Myers, playing for the Omaha Storm Chasers in August of 2012.
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(Florida Today) -- When Evan Longoria was injured last season, the Tampa Bay Rays lacked a big bat to help carry the load. It was a big reason they weren't in the playoffs.

They made a trade Sunday that should assure that won't happen again in the near future.

On Sunday night the Rays pulled the trigger on their future, trading pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis for what looks to be a star in the making.

See Also: Shields excited about Kansas City opportunity

22-year-old Wil Myers has everything the Rays are looking for. He is young, hits for power and average and can play centerfield.

And the High Point, North Carolina native is signed for the next six seasons.

Myers split time between Double A and Triple A last season, hitting .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBI in 134 games. Those are impressive numbers and scouts say he is ready to play in the big leagues now.

That may not happen right out of spring training as the Rays like to take their time with young stars. But, centerfield could become a problem position and if Myers is swinging a hot bat, who knows? Look what happened with Washington's Bryce Harper last season.

One thing is for sure, the Rays have replaced B.J. Upton. And done it well.

The cost was steep, until you think about all of the pitching that the Rays have. Shields will be missed. He was an All-Star two years ago, winning 16 games with a 2.82 ERA and had 15 wins last season. He was a huge part of getting this organization to where it is today - a contender.

But this is a deal that had to be made. The team needed another big bat in the middle of the order to help protect Longoria for years to come. They now have that guy.

Sure the rotation takes a hit, but it is not as bad as one would think. The Rays have a ton of pitching depth with the emergence last season of Alex Cobb (11-9, 4.03 ERA), Matt Moore (11-11, 3.81 ERA) and Jeff Niemann (2-3, 3.08 ERA) to go behind David Price and Jeremy Hellickson.

But they also grabbed a couple of nice pitchers in the deal, just for good measure.

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi went 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha last season. He made two late-season starts for Kansas City, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 71/3 innings. He is a long shot to make the rotation this season, but if someone gets hurt, he is also ready to play in the major leagues.

Left-hander Mike Montgomery had a down season, so it will be interesting to see what the staff can do to get him back on track, but he was a highly-regarded prospect heading into last season and is also just about major-league ready.

"I think it's very possible that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi will help us win games in 2013, and Mike Montgomery as well," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said.

The Royals are saying they made the move to "win now," but the Rays have made the move so that they can win both now and in the future. And that is a sign of an organization heading in the right direction.

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