Late last season, not long after J.J. Picollo took their baseball operations reigns when the KC Royals let Dayton Moore go, we surmised here that the club might consider bringing back long-time Kansas City pitcher Danny Duffy, who the club traded to the Dodgers in 2021 and became a free agent when the 2022 campaign ended.
Friday, the Royals announced they've signed a free agent named Duffy.
It's just not Danny.
Instead, the team is bringing aboard Matt Duffy (Twitter link), a notably versatile major league infielder with seven years of major league experience, including stops in San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Chicago as a Cub, and most recently in Los Angeles with the Angels.
Duffy joins Kansas City on a minor league contract and has an invitation to spring training.
What can Matt Duffy bring to the big league table for the KC Royals in 2023?
Duffy's big selling point is his versatility, a valuable commodity Kansas City seems to covet with increasing frequency. He's played every infield position and owns a slightly-above-league-average overall fielding percentage of .968.
The bulk of his infield work, however, has been at third base, a position the Royals have struggled with since trading Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee in 2018. In his 475 games at the hot corner, Duffy has a .964 fielding percentage (also better than league average); his isn't Gold Glove-caliber defense, but it's serviceable.
At the plate, Duffy doesn't display a lot of power (his 12-home run 2015 campaign with the Giants remains the only double-digit homer season he's had), but his career .279 average and .337 OBP suggest he can get on base. After slashing .287/.357/.381 for the Cubs two seasons ago, he hit only .250 for the Angels last year, but he also spent almost three months on the Injured List.
So, assuming Duffy makes the Royals' Opening Day roster, how might he fit in? Because he's played third base more than any other position, and Kansas City still hasn't solved its puzzle there, the hot corner seems the most likely spot for him. But if the club obtains another big league third baseman, or Hunter Dozier, recently-acquired Johan Camargo, or perhaps Nate Eaton look better this spring than Duffy, he can certainly fill a utility role. The latter is especially true if the Royals choose to trade Nicky Lopez.
Time will tell. For now, though, Duffy is likely in the running for a big league job.
Kansas City has signed Matt Duffy.