The Kansas City Royals have reached a five-year extension with star lefty Danny Duffy. The back-loaded, $65 million deal carries through the 2021 season. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was first to break the news, and the Royals confirmed it to the Kansas City Star and MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Sources: Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals have agreed on a five-year, $65 million contract extension.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 16, 2017
Royals, Duffy Agree to Five-Year Extension
The Royals drafted Duffy in the third round in 2007 out of a California high school. Duffy was a top-50 prospect in 2010, and made his major-league debut in 2011. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, however, and did not establish himself until after his recovery.
He broke out in 2014. After starting the year in the minors, he pitched 149 innings in the majors with a spectacular 2.53 ERA. After an up-and-down 2015 in which he bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, Duffy was moved to the rotation for good in May of 2016 after Chris Young and Kris Medlen were injured and ineffective. He was fantastic. He went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA and struck out 188 batters in a career-high 179.2 innings. He is the leading candidate to be the Royals 2017 opening day starter.
Why it Makes Sense
The Royals needed to get this extension done this offseason for a couple of reasons. Duffy was scheduled for a large pay raise in arbitration in 2017, after his performance last season. He was also eligible for free agency after the season, and had made it very clear that he wanted to spend his career in Kansas City. His genial, genuine personality had endeared him to the city and the organization, and watching him walk, along with the many other players likely to leave after 2017, would have been a crushing blow to the team and fans.
The back-loaded nature of the contract (Duffy will earn only $5 million in 2017) allows Kansas City financial flexibility to pursue other short-term upgrades for the roster as they prepare for one more run at a championship. The club now has Duffy, his friend and battery mate Salvador Perez, and Yordano Ventura under affordable, long-term deals to help with the post-2017 rebuild. This is not to mention cheap, long-term controlled trade acquisitions such as Nate Karns and Jorge Soler.
The Final Verdict
This deal is certainly not risk-free. It will pay Duffy over $15 million in his age 30-32 seasons, an age when even the best pitchers can easily lose their effectiveness or turn injury-prone. Duffy has not been a model of health in the first place, as evidenced by his career-high in innings being only 180 and the fact that he has suffered through other minor arm and back troubles since his TJ surgery. However, the timing of his impending free agency, the chemistry between himself and the city, and his star-level performance last year make this deal a no-brainer. The player who once trended #BuryMeARoyal just might get his wish.