KC Royals lefty relieve pitcher Brian Duensing has opted out of his contract, according to Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd:
The Kansas City Royals now have 48 hours to add Duensing to the roster or release him under the terms of his contract.
The opt-out move makes sense for Alex Gordon‘s former college roommate at University of Nebraska. The 33-year-old Duensing has pitched well this spring at Surprise, Arizona, compiling a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts. Given his strong spring performance, I can’t imagine that some major league bullpen will have a spot for a an effective veteran lefty.
There’s a fair chance that the KC Royals will pick up Duensing’s $2 million base salary, given that Danny Duffy is the only other left-hander with a shot at making the pitching staff. While Duensing’s career 4.13 ERA and dead-average 100 ERA+ (adjusted ERA) make him little better than just another bullpen arm, he is a seven-year veteran that can fill the lefty specialist role.
Since Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost wants Danny Duffy to remain stretched out enough to handle multiple innings, Duensing is a strong candidate to make the roster as a LOOGY after Tim Collin’s season-ending elbow injury.
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Right now, closer Wade Davis, setup men Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, and Danny Duffy seem to have bullpen spots locked up. Meanwhile, Duensing is in the mix with Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang for the what figure to be the final two bullpen jobs. Wang’s May 1 opt out date could be the key fact here, allowing the KC Royals to see what the 37-year-old former top starter can do in the AAA rotation by sending him to Omaha before making a final decision.
Such a decision would likely put Duensing on the opening-day roster.
Duensing’s best season came at age 27 when he appeared in 53 games for the Twins in 2010 and pitched 130.2 innings with a 10-3 record and 2.62 ERA, including 13 starts and 1 complete game. Duensing, however, proved unable to hold down a rotation spot due a 5.23 ERA in 2011 and 5.12 ERA in 2012 before the Twins moved him to the bullpen in 2013.
Brian Duensing’s decision to opt out of his contract should force the Kansas City Royals to make its final decisions on bullpen spots within the next 48 hours. If the KC Royals do so, the only real open position will be the final bench spot contest between outfielder Terrance Gore and versatile utility man Whit Merrifield.