The Royals announced Monday that they’ve requested unconditional release waivers on first baseman/designated hitter Lucas Duda. He’ll be a free agent in 48 hours once he clears.
Kansas City designated Duda, 33, for assignment over the weekend. He signed a minor league contract with the club in Spring Training after being cut loose from a similar pact he’d signed with the Twins. However, Duda mustered only a .171/.252/.324 batting line with four home runs in 119 trips to the plate in his second stint with the Royals. Given the magnitude of those struggles and the number of alternate options — Ryan O’Hearn, Cheslor Cuthbert and even Frank Schwindel, who was released over Duda early in the year — it’s a bit surprising that Duda lasted on the roster as long as he did.
Duda’s track record against right-handed pitching could get him a minor league deal elsewhere once he reaches the open market. He’s a lifetime .249/.351/.481 hitter when holding the platoon advantage at the Major League level, and he hit .264/.336/.477 in such situations just last year. But Duda is also strictly a first baseman, if not a pure designated hitter in the eyes of clubs around the league at this point in his career. If he’s to find his way back onto a big league roster, he’ll likely need to head to Triple-A and show some signs of life against minor league opposition in order to earn another look.