Danny Duffy Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Earlier today, Danny Valencia became the first player of the offseason to win an arbitration hearing. While some players are already heading to trial, others are working with their respective teams to avoid a hearing. We’ll keep track of today’s minor arbitration settlements here, with all projection references pointing to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • The Royals and left-hander Danny Duffy have settled on a one-year, $2.425MM contract, reports Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (on Twitter). Duffy, who had filed at $3MM versus the team’s $1.75MM offer, settled $50K above the midpoint of those two figures (as depicted in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). That figure comes in $175K south of his $2.6MM projection. The 26-year-old Duffy thrived in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, totaling a 2.53 ERA with a 113-to-53 K/BB ratio in 149 1/3 innings. He’ll be eligible twice more before hitting free agency after the 2016 season as he enters his age-28 season. The Royals still need to resolve cases with Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer and Kelvin Herrera.

Quick Hits: Duffy, Burnett, Rasmus, Red Sox

Royals pitcher Danny Duffy left his outing after just one pitch this afternoon against the Yankees, with catcher Salvador Perez signaling to the dugout and pointing at his shoulder (as YES Network’s Jack Curry tweets). Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that Duffy was officially removed due to shoulder soreness. An injury to Duffy would be tough news for the Royals, who lead the AL Central heading down the stretch. The lefty has been a key to a tough Royals rotation, posting a 2.42 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings so far this season. Here are more notes from around the game.

  • Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett is making his 30th start of the season this afternoon, and it’ll be an expensive one, as CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury tweets. Burnett’s 30th start increases the value of his 2015 player option from $10MM to $11.75MM. In addition, he gets a $750K bonus this season for making his 30th start. The Phillies’ obligation to Burnett thus continues to accumulate even though he isn’t having the best season, posting a 4.40 ERA so far with 8.1 K/9 and a league-leading 78 walks in 184 innings.
  • Colby Rasmus is one of the best available free-agent position players this winter, and he’s currently on the Blue Jays‘ bench, which tells you much of what you need to know about this offseason’s crop of free agent hitters, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. That juxtaposition explains why the Red Sox spent the summer acquiring hitting talent, signing Rusney Castillo and getting Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig in trades.

Royals Designate Francisley Bueno For Assignment

The Royals have issued a press release announcing that left-hander Danny Duffy has been re-instated from the 60-day disabled list, and fellow left-hander Francisley Bueno has been designated for assignment in order to clear a space on the 40-man roster. Duffy will be optioned to Triple-A Omaha for the time being.

Bueno, 32, has pitched to a respectable 3.40 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 45 innings of work at Omaha this season. He tallied 17 1/3 innings out of the Royals' bullpen in 2012 — his first big league action since 2008 with the Braves. Atlanta originally signed the Cuban product in 2006.

Duffy has spent the past year on the shelf recovering from Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old had posted a 3.90 ERA with 28 strikeouts through 27 2/3 innings for the Royals last season before going down with a torn UCL. Command was an issue, as he also issued 18 walks in that time, but Duffy was long heraded as one of the Royals' better pitching prospects. Baseball America ranked him as the game's No. 68 prospect overall prior to the 2011 season.

Quick Hits: Hatcher, Wright, Giants, Duffy, Draft

The Angels announced that Mickey Hatcher has been removed from his job as the team's hitting coach.  Hatcher will be replaced by Jim Eppard, who had been the hitting coach at Triple-A Salt Lake City.  This was Hatcher's 13th year as the Angels' hitting coach, and his firing is surely a response to the club's overall lack of offense this season, particularly from Albert Pujols.  (Ironically, Pujols hit three singles in today's 4-0 win over the A's.)  Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times thinks this move came from owner Arte Moreno and is another sign that GM Jerry Dipoto is in charge of the team, not Mike Scioscia (both Twitter links).

Here are some items from around the majors…

  • David Wright told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that he hasn't been approached by the Mets about a contract extension and he hasn't thought about the possibility of in-season negotiations.  We heard on Sunday that the Mets will likely offer Wright a multiyear contract, possibly sometime this summer.
  • Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, both free agents after the season, told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that they'd be open to midseason contract talks with the Giants but are both just focused on baseball for now.
  • Danny Duffy's Tommy John surgery is just the latest blow in what has been a hard-luck season for the Royals, writes Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star.  The Royals will essentially lose a year of control over Duffy (who will accumulate service time while on the DL) and "the pressure on the Royals…to sign a frontline starting pitcher this winter just intensified," said Mellinger.
    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/14/3610785/royals-pain-continues-with-duffys.html#storylink=cpy
  • High school outfielder Byron Buxton holds the top spot in Baseball America's ranking of the top 100 prospects in the June amateur draft.  The Astros hold the #1 overall selection.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney looks at ten starting pitchers who could be trade candidates this summer.
  • The early results of last offseason's trades are evaluated by MLB.com's Joey Nowak.
  • Marlins Park is proving to be very pitcher-friendly, but Marlins president David Samson told reporters (including Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post) that the team wasn't planning to move in the fences after the season.

Service Time Implications For Danny Duffy’s Debut

Eric Hosmer rewarded the Royals for promoting him aggressively instead of taking a more cautious financial approach and delaying his debut. Less than two weeks into Hosmer's big league career, he has two home runs and an .848 OPS. Now, one of Hosmer's former minor league teammates is on his way to Kansas City for his MLB debut.

Left-handed pitching prospect Danny Duffy will start for the Royals on Wednesday, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. For the second time in a month, GM Dayton Moore is calling on his young players despite the possibility that the early promotions will mean the players go to arbitration four times instead of three and cost the team millions in the process. 

That’s not to say that Duffy's early promotion will cost the Royals. The upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement and the unpredictability of future super two cutoffs make it nearly impossible to predict with certainty. Plus, if the Royals option Duffy to the minors for at least 20 days at some point between now and the end of 2013, it's likely that he will only go to arbitration three times.

Duffy will have 134 days of service time if he stays in the Majors for the entire 2011 season. If he collects a full year of service time in 2012 and 2013, he’d likely qualify for salary arbitration after ’13 and go through the potentially lucrative process four times (though that’s subject to collective bargaining and the variable super two cutoff). He’s definitely not going to be eligible for free agency until after 2017 – the Royals assured themselves of that by keeping him in the minors for April.

Six weeks into the season, it's not hard to see why the Royals called the 22-year-old up. The former third rounder entered the season as the seventh-best prospect in Kansas City’s stacked system, according to Baseball America (68th in MLB). Duffy’s first seven starts against Triple-A hitters have been impressive; he now has a tidy 3.00 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

There’s something to be said for calling on prospects – especially pitchers – when they’re ready, instead of obsessing over service time. The Royals need arms after last night’s drubbing at the hands of the Indians and Duffy appears to be the best option they have. There are risks involved with the move, just as there are advantages. It’s too early to tell for sure, but the unexpectedly early callup could provide Duffy with just enough service time to qualify for arbitration an extra time.