The Tampa Bay Rays paid a high price to get right fielder Will Myers from the Kansas City Royals. Acquiring Myers cost the Rays an established front-line starter in James Shields, who struck out 448 batters and won 31 games in his final two seasons in Tampa Bay (2011 and 2012). But on December 9, 2012, the Rays took a risk and sent Shields packing to Kansas City as part of a multi-player deal to land Myers, one of the most highly thought of young outfield prospects in all of Major League Baseball.
If the 2013 season is any indication, the trade is one the Rays won’t be regretting any time soon. While Shields went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA last year with an improving Kansas City club (86-76), Myers proved right off the bat that he can be a difference maker for Tampa Bay, and that shouldn’t be any different in 2014. Last season, Myers played in 88 games and was a factor offensively, scoring 50 runs and driving in 53. He hit an impressive .293 in his first MLB experience, and hit 13 home runs. His .478 slugging percentage led to an OPS of .832, a stellar number for someone his age (23) who had never seen top-flight pitching before.
His efforts were part of the reason why Tampa Bay got into the Wild Card Game and won it, before bowing out of the postseason in the divisional round. Perhaps not surprisingly for a rookie, Myers struggled in the postseason, going just 2-for-20 (.100) at the plate. But it also figures that his 2013 postseason will be just a footnote to his career eventually, as Myers is likely to get several more chances to put up strong postseason numbers. Barring a sophomore slump or injury, he should be a force in the Rays’ lineup through the whole 2014 season and that will do nothing but improve Tampa Bay’s chances at winning the American League East.
Another impressive thing about Myers was that in 77 games as an outfielder last season, he never made an error. He is a solid all-around player and the type of young prospect that franchises generally don’t part with unless they receive something great in return. Tampa Bay was willing to gamble by shipping Shields off to the Royals, but early indications are that the gamble paid off handsomely and that point should be further demonstrated by Myers’ play in 2014.