Wil Myers

The Royals trade Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to Tampa Bay for James Shields and Wade Davis

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UPDATE: Yes, this is much bigger. The Royals have made an official announcement:

My first take was that this was a “big, big gamble.” Now that we know we know that the Royals have thrown in Jake Odorizzi, it goes from “gamble” to “malpractice.”

Odorizzi pitched two games in Kansas City in 2012, but his work on the farm has been quite nice. In 145 total innings across Double and Triple-A in 2012, Odorizzi posted a 3.03 ERA and 135/50 K/BB ratio. And he’s just 22.

To sum up: the Royals gave up a top slugging prospect and a guy who figures to be a number three starter — each of whom are under team control for six years — for a veteran starter who is under team control for two years max, and a swingman who, one would assume, the Royals want to start again.

I think it’s quite possible that this trade makes the Royals better in the short term and, likewise, may make the Rays worse in the short term. But it’s not going to make the Royals good enough to seriously contend in that short term and really kills them in the long term.

Not liking this deal from the Royals perspective. Not liking it at all.

11:12 PM: This is just breaking and we don’t have all the details yet, but Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times is reporting that the Rays have traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals for outfield prospect Wil Myers.  Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, however, is reporting that there is more to this deal than just those three players and it may involve several more players.

Not that it isn’t large already. Any trade involving Myers, who is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, is a big deal. Myers, who turns 22 on Monday, hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers and 109 RBI between Double- and Triple-A last season. He strikes out a lot, but is one of the stronger power prospects to come around in a long time.

Shields needs no introduction. He’s a seven-year veteran who went 15-10 this past season with a 3.52 ERA. While never a Cy Young caliber pitcher, he has tossed over 200 innings a year — sometimes a lot more than 200 in a year — every season since 2007.  Davis was once a starter but was moved to the pen last year and it did him wonders: 70 and a third innings in 54 appearances in which he posted a 2.43 ERA and struck out 11.1 batters per nine innings. He seems a way better bet as a reliever than being turned back into a starter, if Kansas City has that in mind.

Overall, though, this is a big, big gamble for the Royals. They are sending away a truly elite power prospect who has yet to log a day of major league service time for two veteran pitchers, neither of which is a real game-changer for them, even if it does make their pitching more respectable. It strikes me, though, that adding Will Myers to the lineup would do more to improve the Royals’ outlook than adding a reliever and a number two starter.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.