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  1. Rays

James Shields-Wil Myers trade still under evaluation

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 21: Wil Myers #9 of the Tampa Bay Rays strikes out looking in front of catcher Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers to end the first inning of a game on August 21, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 477588431
Published Oct. 8, 2014

When OF Wil Myers was voted the 2013 American League rookie of the year after a strong second half of the season — helping send the Rays into the playoffs and the Royals home early for the 28th straight year— it looked then as if the Rays had "won" the blockbuster December 2012 trade.

But it looks different now.

The Rays have been done for a week, with Myers' poor second season (.222 average, six HRs, 35 RBIs, 70 games lost to injury) a significant factor in their decline.

And the Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 1985, hosting the Angels in the division series, thanks in large part to the two pitchers — James Shields, who starts Game 3 tonight, and Wade Davis — they got in the trade.

"When you look at it, it means everything. It was the trade that put us over the hump," Royals manager Ned Yost said last week. "Would we be in this position without James Shields and Wade Davis? No. It did exactly what we hoped it would."

But the validation, and the evaluation, will be ongoing.

Shields provided the ace pitching and leadership needed, but he almost certainly is leaving the Royals as a free agent, headed to a massive payday from the Red Sox, Yankees or other big-bucks team. And Davis, who had a dominant showing out of the bullpen, gets expensive quickly, with options of $7 million, $8 million and $10 million over 2015-17 that likely will lead to a trade, perhaps this winter. So their contributions might be limited to what they are now.

The Rays, meanwhile, have Myers for five more seasons. They have RHP Jake Odorizzi, who emerged as a solid starter with an 11-13, 4.13 rookie performance, for five more years. So how they do over that span will matter quite a bit.

Plus they have LHP Mike Montgomery, a former top prospect who was 10-5, 4.29 at Triple A this season, and INF Patrick Leonard, who hit .284 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs in earning MVP honors at advanced Class A Charlotte.

So who "won"? Ultimately, it will depend on when you ask.

BROADCAST NEWS: Having just completed 10 seasons, the radio duo of Andy Freed and David Wills will remain intact. Wills signed a three-year deal that runs through 2017; Freed is signed through 2016. … Sun Sports telecasts of Rays games ranked second in the Tampa Bay TV market during prime time (behind Ch. 10) per Forbes/Nielsen data with a 4.01 rating averaging 73,000 households; in 11 markets, baseball was No. 1.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Chatter in Philadelphia that 1B Ryan Howard will be dealt, with the Phillies eating the bulk of the $60 million plus on his deal, has to be of interest to the Rays. … Spring training starts basically a week later next season, with camps opening around Feb. 20 and games starting in early March. … Yunel Escobar ranked worst of the 128 who played shortstop based on fangraph.com's defensive runs saved metric at minus-24, a major drop from plus-4 last year. … Rays staff was impressed with its first instructional league look at SS Adrian Rondon, the 17-year-old signed for $2.95 million. … Hal Bodley has another signing of his new book, How Baseball Explains America, at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 16 at the Belleair Country Club. … OF Taylor Motter, who hit .274-16-61 at Double-A Montgomery, is playing winter ball for Margarita in Venezuela. … Joe Maddon's 48 replay challenges (21-27) were second most; the Cubs' Rick Renteria made 57.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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