The Royals announced Tuesday that they’ve placed left-hander Danny Duffy and right-hander Brady Singer on the 10-day injured list. Duffy is dealing with a left flexor strain, while Singer is dealing with right shoulder fatigue. Righty Tyler Zuber and first baseman/outfielder Ryan McBroom were recalled from Triple-A in a pair of corresponding moves.
Duffy, 32, spent May 12 through June 23 on the injured list with this same injury. He’d returned to post a 3.72 ERA in 19 1/3 innings across five starts and one relief appearance. Overall, he’s pitched to a 2.51 ERA with a 25.8 percent strikeout rate and an 8.7 percent walk rate through 61 innings this season.
Given the Royals’ poor season and Duffy’s status as a pending free agent, there was some speculation that he could be moved in the coming days. Between Duffy’s health in 2021, his previously vocal stance on spending his whole career in Kansas City, and the fact that he can veto any trade as a 10-and-5 player, a trade might not have been especially likely anyhow. However, this latest IL stint seems to all but eliminate the possibility of a deal coming together.
With the elimination of August trade waivers, there’d be no possibility of Duffy changing hands following the July 30 deadline. He’ll play out the final season of a five-year, $65MM contract extension he signed prior to the 2017 season and reach the open market. That said, the Royals will be in the market for pitching help this winter and could very well look to bring Duffy back on a new contract as a free agent — assuming the current flexor strain doesn’t prove to be too severe, of course.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the 24-year-old Singer, who was hit hard in his season debut before settling into a nice groove. Singer posted excellent numbers in April, struggled immensely in May, and had a solid-but-unspectacular showing in June. That had all balanced out to a 4.52 ERA and a 3.84 FIP through July 7. However, Singer was blown up for seven runs in two innings against the Orioles in his most recent outing, sending his season ERA soaring to 5.13.
The obvious hope for Singer and the Royals is that this does prove to be nothing more than fatigue. While they’re 18 games under .500 and clearly not postseason contenders in 2021, Singer is a former first-round pick and top prospect who is viewed as a key long-term piece for the Royals’ rotation. He logged a 4.06 ERA in 12 starts last year in his Major League debut and is controlled all the way through the 2025 season.