It should not be a surprise that James Shields was traded late Sunday night to the Kansas City Royals, not with all the rumors about a Shields-for-Wil Myers deal.
But Wade Davis?
"I wasn't expected to be traded," Davis said, "but you prepare for it anyway."
That's life among the Tampa Bay Rays, especially those whose salaries run seven figures.
"I think the way that our team is presently, it's the way we operate," infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist said. "I think everybody knows that and accepts the situation for what it is. It's rough to see teammates have to move on early in their career. They have a lot of upside. It looks like Tampa Bay is always going to be a young place, a place for young players.
"Hopefully we get to stick around as long as possible and see some of these young players come into their own. Obviously, Evan (Longoria) is going to get a chance to do that."
Longoria signed a six-year contract extension last month that will pay him $131 million over the next 10 seasons. But deals like that are rare in Tampa Bay where, as team president Matt Silverman said, "We run this team as if we're balanced on the head of a pin and there is very little margin for error, I'd say zero margin for error. We've accepted that. We understand that, and it factors into every decision we make."
Shields, who will make $10.25 million in 2013, and Davis, who will make $2.8 million, were moved to clear payroll. In return, the Rays landed four prospects to help stock a farm system that is not as bountiful at the top level as it once was.
Chief among the new Rays is outfielder Wil Myers, the consensus 2012 minor league player of the year who will eventually fill the void left by center fielder B.J. Upton, who received a five-year, $75 million contract in November from Atlanta.
"Personally I think this is the most difficult trade we've made to date," executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Sunday. "Both guys were drafted and developed here. They've been key players in this organization's turnaround, and they're both high quality people. It's a painful loss for our club, but I'm confident in our resilience and the talent that will be returning to the field next season."
Shields leaves as the Rays all-time leader in wins (87), losses (73), shutouts (8), complete games (19), strikeouts (1,250), innings pitched (1,454 2/3) and starts (218). Davis leaves with the reputation as a selfless player who willingly moved to the bullpen in 2012 after spending two plus season in the rotation.
"I'm bummed to see James and Wade go," Zobrist said. "Those guys have been a key part of our team and clubhouse since I've been there. For me personally, it will be tough to lose teammates. On the other side of it, it looks like we're getting some pretty good young guys in return."
Shields said Sunday he wasn't really shocked by the news, given that he has been mentioned prominently in trade rumors for the past two years.
"I've been kind of prepping myself a little bit for this day," Shields said. "To be honest with you, I didn't even know which teams were interested in me."
While his sad to leave the organization, his teammates and the bat area, Shields said he is looking forward to pitching in Kansas City, where he will likely be the No. 1 starter in the rotation.
"I'm obviously excited to start a new chapter in my career and help Kansas City win some ball games," he said. "They have a good young squad over there and I think they're on the upside. They're a couple of pitchers away from doing pretty well, so hopefully I can over there and help out."
Davis, glad to be returning to the role of a starting pitcher, said he new a day would come when he would pitch for another organization.
"We all know that this is how things go and were probably going to end up going eventually," Davis said. "We had a ton of pitching, and they needed to add some pieces to the team. I knew my name was in the mix just from conversations I've had with people. And here we are."