The Royals have opened extension talks with lefty Danny Duffy, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. At this point, it seems that discussions have not moved beyond the preliminary stage, but there is said to be mutual interest in a deal.
While there doesn’t appear to be any particular momentum toward a pact — Flanagan says the sides have yet to exchange “firm details or proposals” — it’s notable that the talks are taking place. Duffy is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility, making him one of several notable Kansas City players who’ll qualify for free agency after the year. While the club is already locked in for longer commitments on several key regulars, there appear to be some payroll pressures and there is plenty of uncertainty as to how things will play out with so many fixtures set to depart.
Contract talks were inevitable, of course; if nothing else, there’s the matter of Duffy’s final arb payday to be sorted out. MLBTR projects him to earn $8.2MM after a strong year in which he racked up 179 2/3 innings despite making 16 relief appearances to go with his 26 starts. He ended the year with a 3.51 ERA and 9.4 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9, while also showing improved fastball velocity, filling up the strike zone more than ever, and registering a career-high 12.4% swinging-strike rate.
GM Dayton Moore declined to comment, noting only that the club hopes to secure its best homegrown players when it’s able. And Duffy said he wasn’t aware of the talks, though he left no doubt that he is hoping for a long-term deal with the team. “I want to stay with the Royals long term,” he said. “One hundred percent. For sure.”
Despite his evident interest, finding a valuation for Duffy that suits the team’s needs will not be an easy task. Duffy will be entering his age-29 season when he qualifies for free agency, so he’ll have prime years to sell, and he showed enough last year to believe he could line up for a rather significant contract with another quality campaign. While his relative youth also enhances his appeal to Kansas City, it means that the team will either need to stretch beyond its typical comfort zone — after doing so already last winter for Ian Kennedy — or try to convince Duffy to take a team-friendly payout.