KC Royals Trades: Why Danny Duffy might OK a deal

Danny Duffy recently reached a career milestone that could guarantee he’ll fulfill his desire to play only for Kansas City. The popular KC Royals pitcher attained coveted “10 and 5” rights—10 years of major league service time with the last five spent with one team—so he can’t be traded without his consent.

Duffy achieving 10&5 status just as baseball’s midsummer trade season heats up could pose a problem for his employer. The Royals, dead last in the American League Central after Monday’s loss to Cincinnati, are almost certain to be sellers as the July 30 trade deadline nears, and although Duffy’s recent left forearm flexor injury cost him significant time on the Injured List, his name is bound to surface in trade talks. His pre-injury performance and decent pitching since returning to action a couple of weeks ago assure that.

Whether they have before, the Royals must listen now to overtures for Duffy. This is the final year of his five-year, $65 million contract, so the club would be wise to hedge any bet against him leaving this winter by exploring the trade market—if he survives the trade deadline but then decides to test free agency, the Royals won’t get anything for him unless they give him a qualifying offer and he signs with another team. But KC would only get a draft pick in that case, not present professional talent. And the Royals might not even extend a QO.

The club can’t afford to summarily dismiss the notion of trading Duffy. It must at least listen to what other clubs have to say, and seriously consider what they might offer. It only makes good business sense. So does trading Duffy if the return is sufficient.

But if Duffy wants to stay, his 10&5 rights presumptively prevent the KC Royals from trading him.

The KC Royals can get value for Danny Duffy and have him back in 2022.

There is a way, though, the club could realize value by trading Duffy, and he could still end his career with and in Kansas City.

To get there, the Royals first have to find a trade partner willing to assume the risk of Duffy reinjuring himself, and also willing to “rent” him for the rest of this season, lose him to free agency when the campaign ends, and give up a player or players talented enough to make a transaction worthwhile for Kansas City. Then, presuming a suitable deal develops, Duffy must approve it.

All of that could happen. Although Duffy’s desire to finish his baseball career with the team, and in the city, he so obviously loves may rank highest among his baseball priorities, that deep affection for, and fierce loyalty to, the only franchise he’s ever known might move him to do what’s best for it, like allowing the Royals to trade him for a young player or two, even though leaving would be painful and not what he wants to do. Then, as a new free agent, he can try to negotiate a return to KC over the winter.

Waiving his 10&5 rights, however, requires Duffy’s faith that the KC Royals want him next season.

As a new 10&5 player, Kansas City’s Danny Duffy can veto any trade. But he might OK a deal under the right circumstances.