Today’s holiday wish is for KC Royals pitcher Danny Duffy to have the kind of season everyone has always expected from him.
Happy Holidays and welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s “KC Royals Wish List” series. For the 12 days leading up to Christmas, our writers will share their holiday wishes for the Royals. Whether they’re more offseason improvements, success in 2021, or hope for the future, anything could be in store. Today, our wish is for Danny Duffy.
Danny Duffy is a mystery, an unquestionable talent whose 10-year KC Royals career has never completely revealed just who he is as a pitcher.
The Royals pay him handsomely to do a job few can do. He’s preparing now for the final year of the five-season, $65 million contract he signed just before spring training began in 2017, a deal that, depending on your perspective, was either well-earned and deserved or extravagant and ill-advised.
At the time the parties put pen to paper, Duffy was 29 and coming off a nifty 12-3. 3.51 ERA season that remains his best. The Royals saw greatness in Duffy and, with their suddenly star lefthander headed for arbitration, moved quickly to wrap him up in a deal designed to avoid arbitration’s risky winner-take-all process and effectively buy out the initial stages of his future free agency (he would have been a first-time free agent after the ’17 season).
The transaction suited both sides—Duffy became instantly and wildly rich and the Royals avoided risk and secured Duffy’s services for five years. Clearly, the club believed in their best southpaw and his future. Those outsiders who considered the package excessive and shakily based on a single stellar season may have been right.
Duffy was 36-33 in his five Royal campaigns pre-dating the contract (a record boosted considerably by that 12-3 in 2016), including 16-20 over the club’s two World Series seasons when it was the winningest it had been in years. But the finances of baseball work in interesting ways and the Royals found that to be a sufficient foundation for a $65 million commitment.
He’s 28-32 since, a record not equal to the expectations underlying, or created by, his contract. To be blunt, Duffy has disappointed; he’s had the misfortune to pitch for bad teams, but his flashes of brilliance, weighed against lackluster results, leaves us hungry for much more of Duffy at his best.
In fairness, Duffy suffers too frequently from painfully poor run support, and some wonder if he’s better off working out of the bullpen. Some of his numbers suggest that may well be the case.
Whatever the cause, Duffy hasn’t been Kansas City’s 65 Million Dollar Man. This is, though, the last year of his current pact, and major leaguers have an uncanny knack of blossoming in such circumstances. Perhaps that’s what Duffy will do.
That would be just fine with Duffy, the Royals, and the fans. An excellent 2021 would be the perfect self-reward for the pitcher who proudly wears his affection for his team, and the city in which it plays, on his sleeve.
So it is that today’s Kings of Kauffman Holiday Wish is for Danny Duffy to have the kind of season he, and we, have always wanted.
Here’s hoping Danny Duffy has his best year yet for the KC Royals.