The Kansas City Royals are about to enter on a unique situation. While one angle seems logical, could keeping status-quo be the best option?
Once they signed Duda, it seemed as if the Royals had an agenda in mind. That being, sign veteran players to cheap one-year deals, hope they are productive, then trade them in June/July. While this could help with the rebuild, it doesn’t really help Dozier grow.
The upside was that Dozier, who isn’t a natural first baseman, would get a chance to get more reps at first base in the lower rankings. This would also give the Royals a better idea as to what type of stopgap first baseman he would be (assuming Nick Pratto continues developing).
This decision is coming quick. Josh Vernier reported yesterday that Ned Yost is hopeful for Duda’s return.
Reason to keep Dozier in the line-up
Since being called up on May 14th, Dozier has not been awful at first base or at the plate. He has been decent but does have some areas of growth at the plate. For the most part, Dozier has been a pleasant surprise this year at the big league level.
As of right now, Dozier is hitting a slash of .250/.313/.375 with seven extra-base hits over 26 games. As of right now, he is also averaging one strikeout a game, with 26 strikeouts compared to eight walks.
On the plus side, he has a hit in eight of the last 10 games too. Unfortunately, none of those games have resulted in multiple hits and he has only walked twice in the last 10 games. However, when looking at the wRC+, which is another offensive metrics, he has an 89 wRC+. For perspective, the average offensive player has a 100 wRC+
Defensively, he has been adequate. He has a -0.2 dWAR and a 0.4 UZR (an average defender scores a 0.0 on this metric), which is a defensive measurement of efficiency. So he isn’t far off for someone who has played more time at first base this year than prior years combined.
Keeping Dozier in the lineup can help build his confidence a little more, and as mentioned before, provide a way to see if he can be the first baseman for the next few years. Within the system, the Royals have already moved Ryan O’Hearn to the outfield more, and Frank Schwindel has been hot and cold all year. The “next in line” for first base is Pratto, but he is at least two years away.
While Whit Merrifield is an option at first, that shouldn’t be where he spends most of his time.
Reasons to give first base back to Duda
Duda went on the DL in May my first thought was about his trade value. While he didn’t have the same type of start to the year he did when the New York Mets traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays last year, I was hoping they could still get something.
Many MLB talking heads have Duda as a low-risk trading piece for many contending teams. However, the catch is he has to be playing to “maximize” on the trade. If he isn’t playing and showing that the injury isn’t affecting him anymore, the probability of getting anything in return for Duda becomes slim.
For perspective, Jon Jay had one of the best months in Royals history when it comes to hits in a single month. Due to this, the Royals were able to maximize his value and get a quality return from Arizona. The same idea will apply to Duda in the coming weeks.
Before going on the DL, on the season Duda was slashing a less than impressive .256/.317/.398 with 11 extra-base hits. However, May was looking like a month that would crank up his value. Over the first 12 games of the month, Duda hit an impressive .366/.409/.585 with seven extra-base hits. His wRC+ on the year is a 96, which again an average offensive player has a wRC+ of 100.
Defensively, depending on where you look, he was having a better year this year than he had in the past. His -0.2 dWAR is better than the last eight years. His UZR is actually a -0.4 on the year, which does show that he’s “below average”.
So defensively he is about average, and offensively he was turning it around. All things considered, it was and still could look good for Duda and the Royals come trading time.
I would prefer having Dozier in the lineup because he is more apart of the “youth movement” and a part of the rebuild. However, going back to the original plan during the rebuild, Duda has to start playing again.
Seeing as how the hope is for Duda to start his rehab assignment this weekend, that means that within the next 7-10 days the move could be made to bring Duda back, depending on how his foot reacts to the playing time.
The Royals are most likely going to try and showcase Duda once he returns. If Duda can pick up where he left off in May, the Royals will be able to maximize the value that Duda has. If he struggles, he could still be traded, it just will be for a lesser value.
So what do you think Royals fans? Is Dozier surprising any of you? Do you think Duda has enough time to build up his draft stock again? Let us know below!