Less than 24 hours ahead of Friday’s MLB trade deadline, the Kansas City Royals made their first major move, shipping left-hander Danny Duffy to the Los Angeles Dodgers for players to be named later, according to multiple sources.
Duffy has 10 and 5 rights that he is expected to waive to allow the deal to go through. The Royals are also reported to be sending cash in part to offset the remainder of Duffy’s $15.5 million salary. Additionally, the Royals will select the players to be named later from the Dodgers this offseason.
The 32-year-old is in the final year of a five-year, $65-million extension he signed in 2016 and had been the longest-tenured Royal, having debuted with the club in 2011. Beset by injuries and inconsistency throughout his career, Duffy had enjoyed a bounce-back 2021 season, going 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a career-best 9.6 K/9 over 13 games (12 starts).
However, Duffy also is in the midst of his second stint on the IL this season, both the result of a left flexor strain. He was placed on the IL on July 17 and Royals general manager Dayton Moore said that he’s expected to return sometime in mid-to-late August. Duffy previously missed more than a month with a similar injury in May and June.
Impact on the Dodgers
The Dodgers have plenty of arms, especially with top pitching prospect Josiah Gray debuting last week and Clayton Kershaw on the way back. Obviously, the Trevor Bauer issue is still looming, with legitimate questions as to when, or if, he will pitch next.
What this perhaps means is that the Dodgers may fear that the Bauer issue will linger, opening up a potential need for a fifth starter (depending on how they use Gray, who did start on Sunday). While Duffy opened the season as the Royals’ number-two starter, at best he will slide into the back of the Dodgers star-studded rotation.
If Duffy does not slide into the rotation, he can be used as a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen. The Royals implemented him in that role during the 2014-15 postseasons, as all nine of his postseason appearances came out of the bullpen.
Additionally, the Dodgers receive a player who grew up in Lompoc, California, about 160 miles west of Dodger Stadium. Duffy grew up a Dodgers fan and now fulfills the prophecy of late Dodgers Hall-of-Famer Tommy Lasorda:
Impact on the Royals
Obviously, in losing their longest-tenured player, the Royals lose a clubhouse pillar who spent the first 15 years of his professional career in the Royals organization. The Royals and Duffy went through a lot, from being drafted on the heels of three-straight 100-loss seasons to battling mental health issues, which included briefly stepping away from baseball during the 2010 season, to the 2015 World Series title and subsequent extension that he signed in 2016, even as most of the rest of the World Series team moved on.
From an on-field standpoint, the Royals have won seven of their last eight despite the absence of Duffy, in large part due to a rotation that has turned in quality starts in all but one of those contests, however, losing Duffy means that the Royals now have no starting pitchers with an ERA+ over 100 this season (or an ERA below 4.58), meaning that things could get ugly again on that front.
Financially, the Royals are reportedly sending cash, though it is unclear how much. Duffy is owed approximately $5.84 million for the rest of the season, so it seems likely the Royals will save at least a few million dollars.
The prospect haul is, well, to be named later. While Royals fans will be disappointing that there’s no clear return, ESPN’s Jeff Passan seemed to indicate that the Royals will receive multiple players from the Dodgers, which is always a win for a rental trade.
The Dodgers system was ranked 14th by MLB Pipeline at the start of the season, but with a wealth of talent at the major-league level, it’s possible that the players available could be ones who would be blocked in LA but may be useful (or potentially useful) in Kansas City.
The Royals will have a list of players to choose from, meaning that minor league scouts in the Royals organization will have about six more weeks of minor league play to watch potential players on the Dodgers’ list of players to pick from, which may lead to a more informed and complete decision-making process.
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