KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Talk about a trade that keeps paying off.
When the Royals sent Zack Greinke to the Brewers in 2010, everyone knew what Milwaukee was getting: one of the top righthanders in the game, a pitcher who had won the American League Cy Young Award with the Royals in 2009.
What did the Royals receive in the package? The last two ALCS MVPs and a player they eventually flipped into starting pitcher James Shields and bullpen stalwart Wade Davis.
"That's the bigger story about where we are today," director of pro scouting Gene Watson told the Kansas City Star after the Royals clinched their second straight American League pennant Friday night by beating the Blue Jays, 4-3, in ALCS Game 6.
In December 2010, the Royals sent Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash considerations to the Brewers for shortstop Alcides Escobar, centerfielder Lorenzo Cain and righthanded pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffries.
Any of those names sound familiar?
Cain was the 2014 ALCS MVP in a four-game sweep of the Orioles, going 8-for-15 with two doubles and five runs, and Escobar won the award this year, going 11-for-23 with five RBIs and totaling 15 bases.
In December 2012, the Royals sent a package of players that included Odorizzi and Wil Myers to Tampa Bay, getting Shields and Davis in return. All Davis has become is one of the AL's best relievers the last two seasons. He posted a 0.94 ERA in 69 appearances this year, seamlessly taking over closer duties late in the season for injured All-Star closer Greg Holland.
As for the back-to-back ALCS MVPs, Royals manager Ned Yost was familiar with both players after serving as the Brewers' manager from 2003-08.
"Both of those kids I knew from being over there," Yost said. "I used to bring Esky to big-league spring training when he was in A-ball because I used to love watching him play. For him to get the MVP this year is very satisfying to me. I've always known he was an MVP type of player in these type of situations."