KC Royals newfound ace Danny Duffy is the best target to sign an extension this winter. He’s the only core player scheduled to hit free-agency in 2018 that had a good season in 2016.
[Note: I know some will insist that Eric Hosmer had a strong year due to his career-high 25 home runs and 104 RBIs. You can read Fangraphs.com’s take on this issue here. I largely agree with this analysis]
As most ardent Kansas City Royals fans know, a mass exodus of key players are currently scheduled to hit free-agency after the 2017 season. That list includes franchise stalwarts Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, and Alcides Escobar. Starting pitchers Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas hit their walk years, as well as bench mainstay Jarrod Dyson and reliever Tim Collins. Other players likely to hit free-agency after the 2017 season are Chris Young and Mike Minor, who both will have mutual options in 2018.
General manager Dayton Moore will try to keep players that make sense for the future.
To me, the best candidate from the above list for an extension is pitcher Danny Duffy. Duffy showed this season that he can be an ace in major league baseball. His weak finish made him produce more like a no. 2 pitcher (12-3, 179.1 IP, 3.51 ERA, 9.4 K/9), but he owns “ace” stuff plus has learned how to last deep into games.
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Danny Duffy Showed He Can Consistently Dominate Games
The Duffy that pitched in July and August can rule in the post-season.
The reason why Duffy could sign is that the Kansas City Royals can sell him on the idea of security. Duffy has been uneven most of his career until maturing in 2016. With only one year of prime performance under his belt, locking in a long-term deal is a solid career move for him.
Duffy is also 27-years-old (28 next season). Given his age, he can afford to sign a four-year deal to cash in on his breakthrough right now. If he performs well, Duffy would still have a shot at a big-money contract in 2020 at age 32. Duffy could gamble on a big year in 2017. But, signing a four-year deal now would ensure he’s set for life.
The KC Royals could even back-load the deal to give them a bit of salary relief in 2017. Duffy is due a large raise in his final year of arbitration. They could instead pay him a modest bump to $5 million, and guarantee $17 million in each of the last three seasons. That deal would work out to $56 million over four seasons. Such a structure would push the bulk of Duffy’s money into 2018 and beyond, where the Royals have few future salary obligations.
Ultimately, what makes Danny Duffy the most likely extension candidate is the deal works for both sides. Here’s hoping that KC Royals fans will be seeing the Duff-Man in Royals blue for many years to come.