The impact James Shields had on the Rays' turnaround remains obvious, evidenced Monday by the large crowd of Tampa Bay players, staff and executives who visited with him before the game with his current Royals squad.
"James Shields has his residue all over the Tampa Bay Rays organization," Rays pitcher Chris Archer said. "The knowledge, the experience and what he accomplished is still lingering around here."
Shields, 32, is now a big deal in Kansas City, too, his leadership and his pitching primary reasons that the Royals made a run at the playoffs and have legit postseason aspirations again.
While the most popular analysis of the December 2012 blockbuster trade that sent Shields (plus Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson) to Kansas City for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (plus minor-leaguers Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard) is that it has worked out for both sides - as Rays manager Joe Maddon said Monday - that may be temporary.
Shields is a free agent after this season, which means he could be gone from Kansas City after two years while Myers and Odorizzi are under Rays control for another five years, through 2019.
Even then, Shields said, the trade was a good deal.
"We hadn't had good pitching for a long time in this organization, and I think we needed that," he said. "Whether I'm here next year or not, I think this trade is going to work out regardless because of the experience factor, to give young guys like (Eric) Hosmer and (Mike Moustakas) the experience factor so they can continue to move on like the Rays did after I got traded last year."