White Sox

Royals land Shields for Myers and more: Good move for Kansas City?

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Royals land Shields for Myers and more: Good move for Kansas City?

Kansas City made a splash Sunday night, acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay for a package of prospects headlined by 22-year-old slugging phenom Wil Myers and pitching prospect Jake Orodizzi. The Royals, whose starters own the American League's highest combined ERA since 2004, needed pitching. There's no questioning that.

But the price Kansas City paid wasn't just high, it was exorbitant. They're getting, at most, two years of Shields and potentially missing out on six years of Myers andor Odorizzi, most of which will come at an inexpensive price. Myers, who turns 22 Monday, hit 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season with a .987 OPS and is regarded as one of the premier offensive prospects in baseball.

Odorizzi, considered the best player Kansas City received from Milwaukee in 2010's Zack Greinke trade, posted a 3.03 ERA with 135 strikeouts, 50 walks and 14 home runs allowed between Double-A and Triple-A. He was one of Kansas City's top two pitching prospects, a guy who maybe could've begun contributing in the majors as early as the 2013 season.

The Royals also gave up struggling former top prospect Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard, described as a sleeper by Minor League Ball's John Sickels. The Rays did well for themselves in this trade, that's for sure.

If those last numbers were reversed, perhaps this deal makes more sense. Davis saw success out of Tampa Bay's bullpen in 2012 but didn't blossom as a starter over three prior years in the Rays' rotation. If Davis remains a reliever, he'll be an expensive one -- Davis will earn 2.8 million in 2013 and 4.8 million in 2014 before options of 7 million, 8 million and 10 million kick in through 2017 (although the first two club options don't have buyouts). Chances are, though, he'll slide in to Kansas City's rotation as their No. 3 or No. 4 starter.

But the real get here for Kansas City is Shields, and getting him puts an immense amount of pressure on the Royals to win in the next two years.

Shields can do his part -- he was a Cy Young candidate in 2011 and a solid No. 2 starter in 2012 -- but the rest of the team will have to take a step forward. Improvements from the team's highly-touted young corner infielders would be a good start.

Eric Hosmer's OPS dropped from .799 in his rookie year to .663 in 2012, but if he regains the elite hitting track he was on 12 months ago it'll provide a massive boost to the Royals' lineup. And if Mike Moustakas can begin to develop as a solid hitter, he'll be one of baseball's more valuable third baseman given his already-outstanding defense.

Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are two of the better players at their respective positions, while Salvador Perez looks like an excellent young catcher. The Royals' problem hasn't been its lineup, though -- over the last four seasons, their offense has rated in the middle of the pack -- it's been the rotation.

A rotation of Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Davis, Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen is hardly bad. But for the Royals to be more than mediocre in 2013, they'll need Guthrie to sustain some level of the success he had after being acquired last summer and Santana to show his bad 2012 (5.16 ERA, league-leading 39 HR allowed) was an anomaly. Having Davis take a step forward and trend more toward being a middle of the rotation starter instead of a back-end guy would be big, too, if he does start.

The Royals have an impressive stable of power arms in their bullpen, too -- but that won't do them any good if their starters can't hand the ball over with a lead.

Kansas City's window to win wasn't in 2013 before this trade. Maybe 2014 was when they took a step forward, with a few more top prospects getting comfortable in the majors.

It's been a long rebuilding process at Kauffman Stadium, though, one that has been underway for seemingly decades. They're loaded with prospects, and while Myers and Odorizzi are blue-chippers, maybe could afford to trade them for more win-now pieces.

But the Rays only get Shields, who turns 31 later this month, for two seasons. If the Royals don't win with Shields, this trade will look like a bust no matter what Myers, Odorizzi & Co. amount to in St. Pete.

The point is, on the surface, Kansas City didn't capitalize on the value of Myers and Odorizzi, mainly Myers. Trading him for two years of a starting pitcher north of 30 was a bold move, and one that's led to a pretty vitriolic response from a fan base starved for success.

Think about that. A move that's designed to bring success quickly has rankled a fan base that's dealt with the longest playoff drought in baseball.

The window to win in Kansas City is cracked open. But whether it's wide enough for the Royals to squeeze through remains to be seen.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”