If you take a look around the web, rumors are starting to become more intense that the Kansas City Royals will indeed be hitting the trade market sometime between now and the end of December, with major league ready pitching being sought after in return.
Commonly you read about the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners being targets for pitching, as both teams are again rumored to have interest is some of the young Royals hitters. Additionally there is always the chance that Kansas City (and namely Dayton Moore) visits a trade with the Atlanta Braves.
Let's zero in on two of the names mentioned as pitchers that the Royals may be seeking to build a deal around. They are right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields of the Rays.
First off, let's start with a little background info. Hellickson, 25, has two and a half years of major league experiences, while Shields, 31 in December, have seven years of pro ball under his belt.
Hellickson was the Rookie of the Year in 2011 and followed that up by winning a Gold Glove this past season. For his career he is 27-21 with a 3.06 ERA.
Shields was an All-Star in 2011 and finished third in the Cy Young voting. For his career he is 87-73 with a 3.89 ERA. In 2011, he was 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
Shields may be the more flashy of the two, as he has a much higher strikeout rate, however Shields also is much more prone to allow home runs.
Shields may be the better pitcher as of now, but if the Royals do make a trade for one of the two, I hope it is for Hellickson. The reasoning would be that he is younger and is under control through 2016. Shields can become a free agent in 2014 and is owed $21 million over the next two seasons.