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MLB: James Shields traded to Kansas City; another Hart grad involved

Posted: December 9, 2012 8:17 p.m.
Updated: December 9, 2012 8:17 p.m.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher and Hart High graduate James Shields throws to a Chicago White Sox batter during a Sept. 27 game in Chicago.

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Tampa Bay Rays All-Star pitcher and Hart High graduate James Shields was traded to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday night for a package of minor league prospects that included fellow Hart graduate Mike Montgomery.

In baseball’s latest blockbuster trade, the Rays are sending Shields and teammate Wade Davis to the Royals in exchange for highly touted outfield prospect Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, third baseman Patrick Leonard and Montgomery, who was once named as Kansas City’s No. 1 pitching prospect.

Montgomery was most recently pitching for the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

The 30-year-old Shields finished 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and 223 strikeouts this past season, which was his seventh in the Majors.

He was named to his first MLB All-Star roster in 2011, when the right-hander finished with a career-high 16 wins and a career-best 2.82 ERA.

MLB.com reports that Shields was set to make $10.25 million this season for Tampa Bay, meaning the team may have traded him to trim the payroll.

Though Shields was No. 2 in Tampa Bay’s rotation behind ace David Price, he’ll likely move into the top spot in the Royals’ starting rotation.

All seven of Shields’ seasons have been played for Tampa Bay, the same team that drafted him in the 16th round of the 2000 MLB Draft.

Montgomery, who was drafted in the first round by the Royals in 2008, has worked through the team’s minor league system since then.

He’s gone back-and-forth between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha through the past two seasons.

Last year, the 23-year-old lefty was 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA in 91 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level while going 2-6 with a 6.67 ERA in 58 innings at Double A.

Kansas City has been working all offseason to shore up a starting rotation that has been abysmal for years, re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and acquiring Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels. But the trade for Shields and Davis represents the most aggressive move yet under general manager Dayton Moore, who believes the Royals are primed to contend as early as this season.

“When you can acquire a pitcher like James Shields and Wade Davis, we have to do it, because that’s what we’ve committed to our team — we’ve committed to our organization,” Moore said. “It’s important that we start winning games.”

Davis made 64 starts for Tampa Bay from 2009-11 before transitioning to the bullpen last season, where he went 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA. He’ll likely get a look at returning to the rotation in Kansas City.

The jewel of the deal for Tampa Bay is Myers, who will turn 22 on Monday. The power-hitting outfielder batted .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs in 134 games split between Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, and eventually could help provide some protection in the batting order for Rays star Evan Longoria.

Odorizzi was 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha before making two starts for the Royals in September, while Montgomery — once a highly prized prospect — struggled to a 5-12 mark with a 6.07 ERA at the same two stops.

“It’s not easy to give up prospects,” Moore said. “What we do is just focus on making our team the very best we can. We focus on making our team the best we can make it, and let (manager) Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff and the rest of the players go out and compete, and see how we match up.”

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