While the Kansas City Royals They started the year well, their performance has fallen precipitously in the last two months. They will come out of the All-Star Break with a lousy 36-53, sitting last in the AL Central. Despite making some efforts in the offseason to compete, the Royals have been left aimless.
With a postseason spot obviously out of the question, Kansas City would appear to be an obvious seller. However, most of the roster is controllable next season or is performing poorly enough to silence potential change talks (i.e. Jorge Soler, Greg Holland and Wade Davis). As a franchise, the Royals have moved away from a large-scale teardown and rebuild, so it could be a relatively quiet deadline season at KC:
However, the Royals have an impending free agent who has a strong season: Danny duffy. That would generally make him a straightforward business candidate, and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes that some rival executives do expect the 32-year-old to change his uniform in the coming weeks. Certainly, Duffy / SIERA’s 2.53 ERA of 4.09 in 57 innings suggests it would be an improvement for most or all of the contenders’ rotations.
However, Duffy’s situation could make a trade more difficult to pull off than it appears at first glance. A flexor strain in his forearm knocked him out of action for more than a month earlier in the year. Duffy returned in late June and is progressively increasing his workload at the Major League level rather than embarking on a rehab assignment.
He has only worked once more than four innings since he was activated, beating by five frames and 77 pitches on July 8 against Cleveland. There is still a little over two weeks left before the deadline for him to continue rebuilding, but some clubs may still harbor concerns about Duffy’s ability to take on the workload of a regular starter in the second half.
You also have to take into account the personal implications. Duffy is a lifelong royal who has had no qualms about expressing his affinity for the organization in the past. He also surpassed ten years of major league service last month.
Players with ten years of MLB service, the last five of which have come with their current team, are entitled to full protection without trade. If Duffy is fully determined to finish the year in Kansas City, he can block any deal. Sherman hears that Duffy, a native of California, would rather be transferred to a West Coast club if he moves; That might suggest that you would be willing to waive your no-trade rights to facilitate the correct deal, but it’s not entirely clear whether you’d need some kind of concession to do so or if you’d only approve an exchange involving a West Coast destination.
Duffy’s impending free agency adds another factor to the situation. A midseason trade wouldn’t stop the Royals from going after Duffy as a free agent this winter. In fact, the organization has shown a propensity for bringing back players – Holland, Davis, Mike Minor, Ervin Santana and Jarrod Dyson among them – who were Royals on one occasion who had since gone elsewhere. A trade could allow Kansas City to regain some prospective value and give Duffy a chance to play in a 2021 pennant race without preventing the sides from meeting in 2022.
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However, it remains to be seen whether the demand from the contenders will be enough to make that kind of deal worthwhile. It’s also an open question whether Duffy is up for a midseason move, making his bid for a trade more difficult than usual for looming free agents who have productive seasons for non-contending teams.