It is part of the nature of the Tampa Bay Rays that today intertwines with tomorrow, and so the team completed arguably the biggest move in its history late Sunday night when the present was again traded for the future.
The Rays sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis and a player to be named later to the Kansas City Royals for four prospects, including the highly-touted Wil Myers, an outfielder who combined to hit .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI while playing last summer for the Royals’ Double-A and Triple-A clubs.
"We are constantly working to balance the present and the future and always trying to thread the needle," Rays executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said. "As an organization, we rely on the contributions of our young players basically more than anyone else in baseball.
"With this trade we're hoping to replenish our system and add a lot of players that we feel like can help us sustain this run of success that we've had the last five years."
Myers, who turns 22 on Monday, was named the minor league player of the year by Baseball America, USA Today and Topps/Minor League Baseball.
Also coming to Tampa Bay are right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi, left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard.
Friedman said Myers, Odorizzi and Montgomery could contribute to the 2013 club.
The cost, though, was steep.
In Shields, Friedman gave up a workhorse who pitched at least 200 innings in each of his six full seasons at the big-league level and the franchise leader in wins (87), losses (73), shutouts (8), complete games (19), strikeouts (1,250), innings pitched (1,454 2/3) and starts (218).
In Davis, Friedman gave up a hard-throwing right-hander who spent two-plus seasons in the starting rotation before moving to the bullpen in 2012.
"Personally I think this is the most difficult trade we've made to date," Friedman said. "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."
The Rays will save nearly $14 million in salary next season between the two pitchers. Included is the $10.25 million Shields will earn in 2013.
"As you know, we're always cognizant of our financial situation and we're managing it with every transaction we make, whether it's a trade like this or we're signing a player to a contract like we did with Evan (Longoria) just a little bit ago," 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. As Andrew said, this isn't an easy one. None of them are easy.
"But when you're talking about two guys who have a history with this organization, two guys who are so additive to our current club, it's a tough decision to make but one we feel we have to make as we look ahead to the next several years and trying to sustain the success that we have."
In Myers, the Rays may have found the big bat they sorely need. While it's unlikely he will begin the year on the big-league roster, since the Rays never allow a rookie to get his feet wet on Opening Day, his contributions will be felt the earliest of the four.
Friedman said Myers swings a middle-of-the-order bat, and while he's relatively new to the outfield - he played right field and center field last season - he is projected as an outfielder.
Odorizzi, 22, is the only one of the four with major-league experience, albeit two starts last season against Cleveland. He won 15 games in 2012 while spending time at Double-A and Triple-A. He was 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 19 games, 18 starts, at Triple-A.
"(We) really like his makeup, pitch ability, a lot of different pitches that can get hitters out," Friedman said. "We feel like Odie has a chance to be one of five in a really good major-league rotation, and we're excited to get him."
Like Myers, Odorizzi played for Team USA in the All-Star Futures Game.
Montgomery, 23, also pitched at the top two levels of the Royals' farm system last year, going a combined 5-12 with a 6.07 ERA.
"There's some things we feel like we can help him with," Friedman said. "He will fit in really well with our development system, a guy who has a lot of upside. A big left-hander with a lot of good ingredients to get major-league hitters out."
Leonard, 20, made his pro debut in rookie ball in 2012. Friedman called him "a guy who has a chance to come up through our system, a really good position player. In years past we've been more pitching focused, pitching heavy, so he's a guy who fits in well with the nucleus with the young position players we have coming up."
Kansas City made the move to bolster a rotation that was one of the worst in the major leagues last season.
"We have to start winning games at the major league level, and the way you develop a winning culture is by winning major league games," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "It's time for us to start winning at the major league level."
Kansas City, which hasn't had a winning season since 2003, has long had one of the best farm systems in baseball, and slowly the cream has risen to the big-league level — first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Salvador Perez form a nucleus. But there's been a dearth of starting pitching for years, and that's what Moore and the rest of the front office have been trying to fix this offseason.
Kansas City already re-signed Jeremy Guthrie to a $25 million, three-year deal, and took on former All-Star Ervin Santana and $12 million of his contract from the Angels. But the trade for Shields and Davis is Moore's most aggressive move yet, giving Kansas City the ace it has been lacking since trading away Zack Greinke, along with another piece that could fit in the rotation or the bullpen.
"When you can acquire a pitcher like James Shields and Wade Davis, we have to do it, because that's what we've committed to our team — we've committed to our organization," Moore said. "It's important that we start winning games."