- Royals righty Brad Keller exited last night’s start early and is being evaluated for what the club describes as “posterior right shoulder discomfort,” writes Anne Rogers of MLB.com. The right-hander said after the game that his shoulder felt “tight” and “sore.” The 26-year-old Keller has had a rough year overall but looked to be on the right track after a disastrous three-month run to begin the year. Keller pitched to a 6.67 ERA through the end of June, but in his past nine starts he’s worked to a 3.42 ERA (4.37 SIERA) with greatly improved strikeout and walk rates. A former Rule 5 pick out of the D-backs organization, Keller has emerged as a mainstay in the Kansas City rotation, pitching to a 3.50 ERA in 360 1/3 innings from 2018-20. This year’s struggles have weighed down his numbers, but he still possesses a solid 4.01 ERA in 494 innings since the Royals gave him his first big league opportunity. He’s never been on the injured list outside of a two-week absence last summer due to a positive Covid-19 test.
- The Royals placed left-hander Jake Brentz on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to August 21) due to left shoulder impingement syndrome. Righty Kyle Zimmer was reinstated from the 10-day IL to take Brentz’s spot on the active roster. Brentz’s first MLB season has been a successful one, as the southpaw has posted a 3.15 ERA and an above-average 27.4% strikeout rate over his first 54 1/3 innings in the big leagues. The hard-throwing Brentz has drawn some buzz as a potential closer of the future for Kansas City, though he has yet to solve his career-long control issues, as Brentz has a 14.5% walk rate this season.
- Adalberto Mondesi will visit with the Royals medical team after feeling tightness in his left oblique. Mondesi has been out of action since June 21 due to an oblique strain, and due to a right oblique strain and a hamstring strain earlier in the season, Mondesi has played in just 10 games in 2021. Royals manager Mike Matheny told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and other reporters that the idea of shutting Mondesi down for the season “hasn’t been talked about,” and the team is for now seeing this issue as just “a little bit of a setback” until more information is known. Mondesi had already been on a Triple-A rehab assignment for much of August.
The latest minor moves from around the league:
- The Royals announced that left-hander Daniel Tillo has been reinstated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Kansas City had a pair of vacancies on the 40-man roster, so no additional move was required. Tillo, named the #51 prospect in the Royals system entering the year by Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, was selected to the 40-man roster in advance of last winter’s Rule 5 draft. The 24-year-old has spent the entire year recovering from a 2020 Tommy John surgery and has thus far topped out at Double-A.
- The Giants signed right-hander Logan Ondrusek to a minor league contract over the weekend. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Sacramento, where he made his first appearance on Saturday. Ondrusek made 288 MLB relief appearances between 2010 and 2016, the bulk of that time coming with the Reds. The 36-year-old hasn’t appeared in the majors in five years, but he’s worked his way back to affiliated ball after beginning the year well with the Leones de Yucatán of the Mexican League. Now working as a starting pitcher, Ondrusek pitched to a 2.38 ERA with an incredible 50:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 45 1/3 innings in Mexico this season.
- Dodgers right-hander Yefry Ramírez has cleared outright waivers, according to the MLB.com transactions tracker. Ramírez, who was designated for assignment last week, had the right to reject an outright assignment because he’d been outrighted in the past. He has apparently chosen to accept an assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City, though, as he’s listed on OKC’s active roster. The 27-year-old made one appearance with L.A. but has otherwise spent the year with Oklahoma City, working to a 5.49 ERA across 62 1/3 innings.
The 2021 season hasn’t gone as the Royals hoped, but general manager Dayton Moore made clear in a recent appearance on 610 AM’s Fescoe in the Morning Show that he still considers his club to be in a win-now mindset and will aim to put together a contending roster for the 2022 season (full audio link to the 18-minute interview).
Moore acknowledged being “extremely disappointed” with the team’s record this season, particularly given that the front office “all felt [the roster] would compete.” That said, Moore didn’t sound like an executive who was gearing up to make sweeping changes in the offseason. While the Royals will certainly look to add in various places — Moore listed the bullpen, in particular — the organization also expects a great deal of improvement from within.
“When I look at our team, there’s not a ton that you’re going to need to do, at least on paper,” said Moore. “…We expect some of our young starters to continue to evolve and get better. We’re going to hopefully be able to transition a position player or two into this lineup next year. We’re going to get a little bit younger, we’re going to have a little more speed on this team. … We’re going to be disciplined with what we do, but we’re going to rely on young players that are going to come up and be better.”
The Royals have an enviable crop of young starting pitching, as Moore referenced. Each of Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar and Kris Bubic has been ranked as a top-100 prospect at some point in recent years, and all four have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues already. Kansas City also has last summer’s No. 4 overall draft pick, lefty Asa Lacy, working his way through the system. Command has been an issue for Lacy thus far in Class-A Advanced, but he’s also fanned a third of his opponents through 52 frames. Twenty-one-year-old Angel Zerpa breezed through Class-A Advanced, meanwhile, before running into some early struggles in his first Double-A action.
Of course, the mention of “transitioning a position player or two” into the lineup seems like a clear reference to uber-prospect Bobby Witt Jr., the No. 2 overall pick from the 2019 draft who has emerged as one of baseball’s brightest prospects. But Moore is also surely referencing another former first-round pick, first baseman Nick Pratto.
Both Witt and Pratto have laid waste to Double-A and Triple-A pitching alike in 2021. Witt, 21, posted a .295/.369/.570 slash with 16 homers and 14 steals in 61 Double-A games before jumping to Triple-A and hitting .283/.328/.550 through his first 13 games. Pratto delivered similar dominance at the plate in Double-A (.271/.404/.570 in 61 games) before jumping to Triple-A at the same time. Like Witt, he hasn’t missed a beat in Omaha, raking at a .271/.379/.646 clip so far.
It’s always possible that the Royals will call on one or both promising youngsters by season’s end, although Moore spoke of exercising patience with each prospect after the scratched 2020 season and an abbreviated run through the minors so far in ’21. Asked specifically about the duo, Moore simply suggested that both need to “keep doing what they’re doing” and accrue more experience in the top minor league level of the system. That said, Moore also suggested that once players are promoted to Triple-A, “they really have an opportunity to force your hand.”
Perhaps most interestingly g of all from Moore, however, was his surprisingly candid assessment of oft-injured shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. While Moore emphasized that the club feels Mondesi is still a part of its future, he also acknowledged that Mondesi may not be the everyday cornerstone the team once envisioned.
“No, you can’t,” Moore candidly replied when asked if the team could count on Mondesi as an everyday player. “We love Mondy to death. … I think when we put this team together, we look at it like, ’Holy cow, if Mondy’s healthy, and he’s a part of the team, it’s going to be really exciting and really impactful in a lot of different ways: defensively, offensively, speed-wise.’ There’s a lot he can do.
“But I think we’re learning that we’re going to have to manage his workload. He may not be a guy that plays more than 100 games a year, best-case scenario. Hopefully he exceeds that expectation, but as somebody who’s responsible for putting together a 26-man roster, we’ve got to look at ways to supplement and perhaps be more balanced, if he’s not a part of it. If he is, that’s great. We’re certainly not going to release him. We’re going to continue to stay with him, obviously. But we’ve got to make sure we put that roster together in ways that protect us. … We can’t, obviously, count on him as an everyday player.”
It’s rare to see a GM speak with such candor about someone who’s long been viewed as a key player. Of course, those comments aren’t any sort of indication that the team plans to move on from Mondesi, nor should we necessarily expect Kansas City to spend significantly on a middle-infield upgrade over the winter. The Royals also have a shortstop-capable infielder in Nicky Lopez, and the aforementioned Witt Jr. has played all of his professional games so far at shortstop, save for eight appearances at the hot corner in 2021. Perhaps the Royals will deem it worthwhile to add a solid utilityman who can deepen the bench and help cover some games at the shortstop position as needed. Based on Moore’s comments, that very role could eventually be one in which Mondesi finds himself — an oft-used but also oft-rested player who can fill in at multiple spots around the diamond.
Mondesi aside, the broader takeaway from Moore’s comments are that while the 2021 season hasn’t gone as hoped, the club remains committed to putting a winner on the field as soon as 2022. That likely points to another offseason of some modest additions in free agency and via trade, as the Royals continue to wait on the emergence of their next core group.
We covered the National League yesterday, so let’s look at the American League’s biggest transactional headlines from a wild month of July…
Windy City Trade Winds: “Help from within” had a few different meanings for the White Sox last month, as the return of Eloy Jimenez from the injured list and Luis Robert beginning his own rehab assignment could end up being the biggest factors for the Pale Hose down the stretch. However, the Sox also found help from within the Chicago city limits, lining up with the Cubs (of all times) on a pair of trades that brought Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera into an already-solid bullpen. A prospect package of Nick Madrigal and Cody Heuer was required to land Kimbrel, but it was a steep price the White Sox were willing to pay.
Madrigal’s season-ending hamstring tear in June created a vacancy for the White Sox at second base, so once again, the Sox looked within the AL Central and picked up Cesar Hernandez from the Indians. Hernandez could be a rental player, or he might be a factor for the 2022 team considering his affordable $6MM club option for next season.
Rays On Cruz Control: It was in many ways a typical deadline month for the Rays, who both added and subtracted some key personnel in order to constantly improve the roster (and payroll) situations. Landing Nelson Cruz from the Twins was perhaps the atypical move, as the Rays took on Cruz’s $4.8MM in remaining salary, yet Cruz offers superstar-level power to the lineup. Beyond Cruz, Tampa Bay also at least looked into the likes of Trevor Story, Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant, Jose Berrios, and Kyle Gibson.
Lower-level trades saw Tampa add Jordan Luplow and DJ Johnson (from the Indians), Shawn Armstrong (from the Orioles), and JT Chargois from the Mariners. That same Seattle trade saw Diego Castillo head to the M’s, while the Rays also dealt left-hander Rich Hill to the Mets in yet another move. You’d think a team moving its nominal closer and a veteran starter would fall into the “seller” category, but that isn’t how the AL East-leading Rays operate.
Athletics Stock Up: The A’s focused mostly on the position player side of their roster, highlighted by the trade that brought Starling Marte from the Marlins in exchange for prized (albeit oft-injured) pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo. Miami will eat the rest of Marte’s approximate $4.57MM salary for the season, so the Athletics were willing to part with a quality young arm for essentially a free rental player who should provide an immediate jolt to the Oakland lineup. A subsequent deal with the Nationals brought even more veteran depth in Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes.
On the pitching side, the Athletics landed Andrew Chafin in a deadline deal with the Cubs, while also adding Sam Moll as further depth in an early-July swap with the Diamondbacks. While the A’s definitely fortified themselves for the wild card race and a challenge to the Astros’ AL West lead, Oakland didn’t make any rotation adds — a decision that loomed large when James Kaprielien landed on the injured list yesterday.
Rangers’ Rebuild Continues: As one of the AL’s clear sellers, the Rangers were a popular team for trade calls, and the end result was seven young players added — four from the Yankees in exchange for the power-hitting Joey Gallo and lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez, and then another trio from the Phillies for Kyle Gibson, closer Ian Kennedy, and a noteworthy prospect in righty Hans Crouse. The deal with Philadelphia netted the most notable name of the seven in Spencer Howard, who has yet to emerge after 52 2/3 MLB innings but is still considered one of baseball’s better young arms.
Texas was able to score such a haul since Gibson’s career year drew him a lot of attention, and Kennedy (a minor league signing in the offseason) bounced back from a rough 2020 to continue his late-career reinvention as a quality bullpen arm. The Rangers looked into a contract extension with Gallo, but when talks failed to extend the team’s control beyond the 2022 season, the decision was made to move the homegrown All-Star while he still held a lot of value. Time will tell if the Rangers made the right calls, yet the hope is that at least some of these seven newcomers will become building blocks of the next winning Texas club.
Twins Fall Short Of A True Fire Sale: Minnesota thought their 2021 side would be “the next winning Twins club,” except a disastrous start to the season made it apparent early that the Twins would be sellers. The team took calls on pretty much every notable veteran on the roster, but since Minnesota is looking to limit the disappointment to just one year, the Twins mostly focused on moving players only under control through 2021. The ageless Nelson Cruz was the biggest name of this bunch, as Cruz was traded to the Rays while J.A. Happ (Cardinals) and Hansel Robles (Red Sox) were also sent elsewhere.
Jose Berrios was the exception, as the right-hander is controlled through 2022 but the Blue Jays made too good of an offer for the Twins to pass up. In acquiring top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson from Toronto, big league-ready young arms Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman for Cruz, change-of-scenery candidate John Gant from St. Louis, and even high-strikeout righty pitching prospect Alex Scherff from Boston, the Twins brought in a collection of players that could help them as early as 2022.
Yankees Load Up The Left Side: After a lackluster first half of the season and a lot of ground to make up on the Red Sox and Rays, there was some sense that the Yankees might be deadline sellers rather than buyers. Uh, nope. The Yankees added a pair of left-handed hitting sluggers (Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo) to their heavily right-handed lineup, picked up southpaw Andrew Heaney in a trade with the Angels, and also brought left-hander Joely Rodriguez from Texas as part of the Gallo trade. Just to break up the left-handed theme, righty Clay Holmes was also acquired in a deal with the Pirates.
New York had to give up a lot of quality prospects to make these trades, and also had to carve out some luxury tax space by moving Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Reds. However, the Yankees were able to make these sorely-needed upgrades without moving any of their true blue-chip prospects, and they also continued their season-long quest to stay under the $210MM luxury tax threshold.
Blue Jays Win The Berrios Sweepstakes: Jose Berrios’ ability and his extra year of control made him a hot commodity on the trade market, and Toronto had to move two big prospects (Austin Martin, Simeon Woods Richardson) to get the Twins’ attention. While Berrios will help the club beyond just 2021, the Jays are similar to the Yankees in not being discouraged by a big deficit in the AL East standings, as the Blue Jays feel their powerful lineup and the benefit of actually playing in Toronto again will fuel a surge.
Since late-game breakdowns have led to a number of tough losses, the Blue Jays have prioritized bullpen additions in July. They picked up Trevor Richards from the Brewers early in the month, then added two veterans in Brad Hand and Joakim Soria to join with incumbent closer Jordan Romano in protecting late leads. Between all the trades and the injuries that led to Toronto’s bullpen predicament in the first place, the Jays’ bullpen mix is almost entirely different from their collection of relievers on Opening Day.
Who’s On First At Fenway: Kyle Schwarber’s unreal home run tear in June added to his reputation as one of the sport’s better power bats, and with the Nationals in pure selling mode, the Red Sox took advantage in landing Schwarber (probably a rental player, given his 2022 mutual option) for a solid but non-elite pitching prospect in Aldo Ramirez. Boston’s lineup will become even more dangerous with Schwarber returns from the 10-day IL, though the team reportedly intends to use Schwarber to fill its first base vacancy, despite the fact that Schwarber has played exactly one game at first base in his 10 professional seasons.
The Red Sox otherwise added bullpen depth in acquiring Hansel Robles from the Twins and Austin Davis from the Pirates, with the latter deal sending former top-100 prospect Michael Chavis to Pittsburgh and former Red Sox GM-turned-Bucs GM Ben Cherington. Like the A’s, the Sox didn’t bring in any rotation help, which stood out as perhaps Boston’s biggest need heading into the deadline. The Red Sox will be counting on Chris Sale to essentially be that midseason rotation boost, as the ace continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery rehab.
Houston, We Have A Bullpen: The Astros had a relatively quiet deadline in comparison to many of the top contenders, though with a heavy-hitting lineup and a good amount of rotation depth, Houston had arguably fewer holes to fill than most. It’s also safe to say that avoiding the luxury tax was also a chief concern, given how the Astros’ moves played out.
That left the relief corps as the Astros’ primary target. Houston brought in Yimi Garcia (from the Marlins), Phil Maton (from the Indians) and, in a surprising deal between two division rivals, Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero from the Mariners. The Astros gave up youngster Abraham Toro and veteran reliever Joe Smith to Seattle, while speedy center fielder Myles Straw went to Cleveland for Maton and catching prospect Yainer Diaz. It made for a decent but not overly substantial price to pay for bullpen upgrades, and the cost will look pretty negligible if the Astros make another deep playoff run
Trader Jerry At It Again: That aforementioned Graveman/Montero trade left some hard feelings within the Mariners’ clubhouse, considering that the surprising M’s are in the thick of the wild card race. However, GM Jerry Dipoto insisted that the move was part of a larger plan, and the Mariners indeed made some further pitching additions by acquiring Tyler Anderson for the rotation and Diego Castillo to replace Graveman in the bullpen. All in all, the Mariners made what they feel is an overall improvement to the roster, while not going overboard in dealing young talent when the team might really be looking at 2022 as its true return to contention.
Guarding Their Assets: Getting a new team name counts as a pretty big acquisition, but while the Indians aren’t out of the playoff race, their July moves were mostly geared towards saving some payroll space and preparing for a better run in 2022. Cesar Hernandez was traded to the White Sox and Eddie Rosario was dealt to the Braves, clearing some money off the 2021 books, and the Tribe also got an interesting pitching prospect in Peyton Battenfield in exchange for moving Jordan Luplow and DJ Johnson to the Rays. Losing Phil Maton to the Astros is an acceptable price for a new everyday center fielder, and Cleveland hopes it landed such a player in Myles Straw.
Royals Say Goodbye To A Franchise Staple: The Royals were undoubtedly disappointed to be deadline sellers considering their aggressive winter and their red-hot star to the season, but K.C. stuck to moving veteran rentals rather than any longer-term players (such as Whit Merrifield, who was again the topic of much trade speculation). The most notable name moved was longtime hurler Danny Duffy, who agreed to waive his no-trade protection to chase a ring with the Dodgers. Former AL home run leader Jorge Soler was also dealt to the outfield-needy Braves, ending Soler’s Kansas City tenure on the disappointing note of a rough 2021 campaign. The Royals also swung a few lower-level deals earlier in July, acquiring Joel Payamps from the Blue Jays and dealing Kelvin Gutierrez to the Orioles and Alcides Escobar to the Nationals.
Arms Leave Anaheim: The Angels had a pretty quiet deadline, perhaps befitting a team that doesn’t entirely want to sell (since stars like Mike Trout will return from the IL) but also faces a big hill to climb to truly get back into the playoff race. The Halos ended up moving a pair of impending free agents in starter Andrew Heaney and reliever Tony Watson, netting some prospects for the long term, but in the short term hampering a pitching staff that is already a weak link. In another minor deal earlier in July, the Angels dealt southpaw Dillon Peters to the Pirates.
Sellers Barely Sold: The Orioles and Tigers were seen the AL’s most clear-cut deadline sellers, yet in the end, neither team did much trading in July. Detroit’s only deal of the month sent Daniel Norris to the Brewers, while the Orioles traded Freddy Galvis to the Phillies and Shawn Armstrong to the Rays.
The Braves have acquired outfielder Jorge Soler from the Royals, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweets that Kansas City will receiver minor league right-hander Kasey Kalich in return.
In the wake of Ronald Acuna’s season-ending ACL tear and Marcell Ozuna’s dislocated fingers and subsequent domestic violence arrest, Braves President, Baseball Operations & General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has remade his outfield by acquiring Soler, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall in trades. Despite being a game below .500, the Braves are only four games out in the NL East.
Soler, 29, has logged 46 games in right field this year while serving as a DH in 44. As you might expect from the time spent at DH, Soler is not known for his defensive chops. His best year came in 2019, when he shook off a history of injuries to play in 162 games and post a 136 wRC+ with 48 home runs in 679 plate appearances. Soler has fallen on hard times since then, with a 90 wRC+ in 534 PA. His bat seems to have come alive in his last 14 games, with seven home runs during that span. Soler is earning $8.05MM this year, and it’s unclear if the Royals are picking up any of the tab. He’s due for free agency after the season.
Signed to a nine-year, $30MM deal out of Cuba by the Cubs back in 2012, Soler came to the Royals in the December 2016 Wade Davis deal. Oddly, he’s one of six key members of the 2016 Cubs to be traded in the last few days, along with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jon Lester, and Kyle Schwarber.
Kalich, a 23-year-old righty reliever, has a 3.26 ERA, 24.6 K%, and 12.0 BB% in 30 1/3 High-A innings this year. Baseball America gave him a 45 grade prior to the season, noting that Kalich “overwhelms hitters with a powerful two-pitch combination” and “has the stuff to pitch in late relief.”
The Royals parted ways with Danny Duffy yesterday, trading the veteran left-hander to the Dodgers for a player to be named later. Given Duffy’s long history with the Royals, it was a tough call for GM Dayton Moore, who told reporters (including Lynn Worthy of The Kansas City Star) that Duffy was “a family member” for the organization.
It remains to be seen if more difficult decisions are in store for Moore and company, as the Royals have a number of interesting trade chips. However, Moore indicated that the club would be more apt to move rental players, as opposed to players who are controlled beyond the 2022 season. By name, Moore said that the team didn’t want to move any of Whit Merrifield, Carlos Santana, or Mike Minor, though said the Royals would remain “open” to ideas.
The Royals signed both Santana and Minor as part of a rather busy offseason, indicating that the team felt it was to some extent on the other end of its semi-rebuild phase. After a hot start, Kansas City has since faded to a 45-56 record, though it makes sense that the Royals wouldn’t want to deal all their veterans and entirely start from scratch heading into 2022.
Merrifield’s name has been floated in trade rumors, as the Royals have reportedly been at least a little more willing than in the past to hearing what other clubs had to offer for the multi-position speedster. However, the Royals were known to be putting a hefty price tag on Merrifield, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Merrifield “is likely” to remain in K.C. beyond today’s deadline.
Given Moore’s hesitations about moving veterans controlled for just one more season, it seems even more far-fetched that Kansas City would trade a player like Scott Barlow, though The Athletic’s Jayson Stark hears that multiple clubs have some interest in the right-hander. Barlow has a 2.70 ERA/3.36 SIERA and a 31% strikeout rate over 50 innings out of the Royals’ bullpen this season, and has been generally solid since making his MLB debut in 2018. Barlow is controllable through the 2024 season, so the Royals could demand for quite a bit in a reliever-hungry trade market, assuming they’re inclined to deal Barlow at all.
The Royals parted ways with one of the faces of their franchise this evening, announcing a trade to send Danny Duffy to the Dodgers in exchange for a player to be named later. Kansas City will include an undisclosed amount of cash to offset some or all of his remaining salary. To create 40-man roster space, the Dodgers designated outfielder DJ Peters for assignment.
Duffy had full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player (one with ten years of major league service, the five most recent having been with the same team). However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported a few weeks ago the Southern California native might be willing waive that protection to facilitate a deal to a West Coast club. That has indeed proven to be the case. The southpaw is currently on the 10-day injured list with a flexor strain in his throwing forearm, but Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore told reporters this week he’d be able to return at some point this season, perhaps near the end of August.
The move brings to an end — at least temporarily — Duffy’s long tenure in the Royals organization. Kansas City selected him out of high school in the third round of the 2007 draft. He made his big league debut in 2011 and has been with the club for over a decade, crossing the ten-year service milestone last month.
It was an unequivocally successful Kansas City tenure for Duffy, who emerged as a fixture in the rotation for almost the entirety of that time. He’s pitched to a 3.95 ERA across 1172 1/3 innings over the course of his career. A key piece of the Royals’ 2015 World Series championship team, Duffy signed a five-year, $65MM extension in January 2017.
That deal expires at the end of the season, though. With the Royals in fourth place in the AL Central, there’s plenty of sense in moving his final few months of team control to add some younger talent. For Duffy, the trade serves him well geographically and gives him an opportunity to pitch in a pennant race at the end of the year.
Of course, nothing stops the Royals from pursuing a reunion with Duffy this winter. He’s beloved amongst team personnel and fans. It seems that’s reciprocated, as the 32-year-old has gone on record in the past about his affinity for the organization and the city. The Royals haven’t been shy about pursuing free agent reunions with members of their mid-2010’s teams in recent years, and it’s possible they’ll take a similar course of action with Duffy during the upcoming offseason.
For the stretch run, the Dodgers are adding a pitcher who quietly had a fantastic start to the year — one that contributed to the Royals’ league-best record over the first few weeks of the season. Through his first seven starts, Duffy tossed 41 2/3 innings of 1.94 ERA/2.34 FIP ball. He struck out a lofty 28.2% of opposing hitters in that time against a tiny 7.1% walk rate and looked to have returned to the mid-rotation form he showed during his peak seasons.
Duffy landed on the IL with a flexor strain on May 17 and missed around five weeks. He built back arm strength on the fly upon his return, working shorter stints at the big league level rather than embarking upon a rehab assignment. Duffy stretched back out to five innings by early July, but he eventually went down with the same injury and landed on the IL on July 20.
It’s not clear how much volume Los Angeles can expect from Duffy, given that he won’t have much time to rehab from his latest injury. The Dodgers have been known to be on the hunt for starting pitching, but it’s also possible they activate Duffy as a multi-inning relief weapon. Whatever the role, the hope is he’ll be able to help the Dodgers in their battle with the Giants and Padres for the NL West and during their postseason run. The Duffy addition didn’t deter the Dodgers from putting together a prospect package likely to land Max Scherzer from the Nationals.
Duffy is making $15.5MM this season, around $5.4MM of which remains to be paid. It’s not precisely clear how much of the tab the Royals are picking up. Duffy’s luxury tax figure (calculated by the contract’s average annual value, not actual salary) is $13MM — so he carries an approximate $4.5MM luxury number the rest of the way. The Dodgers have already exceeded $260MM in luxury tax obligations, according to Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. That puts them in the highest bracket, so they’ll pay a 62.5% tax on any expenditures they take on this summer (on Duffy’s contract and other potential acquisitions).
To determine their return, the Royals will be free to choose from an agreed-upon list of players in the Dodgers’ system. They’ll have up to six months to make a decision, with the PTBNL setup particularly helpful for teams to continue to evaluate prospects after last year’s minor league season was canceled. Players selected in the 2021 draft cannot be traded as players to be named later until after the season is finished.
Peters has long been considered one of the more interesting position player prospects in the Dodgers organization. His combination of big raw power and speed has impressed scouts, and he’s generally been productive at the minor league level despite a sky-high strikeout rate. That hasn’t been the case this season, though, as the right-handed hitter has stumbled to a .223/.319/.372 line over 204 plate appearances with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers could trade Peters before tomorrow’s deadline. If they don’t, he’ll find himself on waivers. Between his proximity to the big leagues (Peters actually made a brief debut this year), decent prospect pedigree, and pair of remaining minor league option years, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he finds himself on another roster in the coming days.
Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported that Duffy was being traded to the Dodgers. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported the Royals would receive a player to be named later. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the inclusion of cash in the deal.
The Dodgers have interest in injured Royals southpaw Danny Duffy, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (via Twitter). This completes the trio of NL West contenders looking at Duffy, since the Padres and Giants have also been linked to the veteran left-hander. San Francisco is known to be interested despite Duffy’s injury, and it can be assumed that the Dodgers are in the same position, considering that Duffy has been on the 10-day injured list for five days now.
Duffy is out of action with his second left flexor strain of the season, so he might not be available until at least early September, based on the timeline of his last IL visit. Since the NL West teams currently have a big lead on the rest of the National League for the two wild card positions, the Dodgers can be reasonably comfortable of reaching the postseason in one form or another, so Duffy could be saved as a late-season reinforcement. While it can certainly be argued that Los Angeles should spend its prospect capital on a healthy pitcher, the Royals’ asking price for Duffy probably isn’t very high, considering his injured status. Duffy controls his trade destiny thanks to 10-and-5 rights, and the California native might be willing to waive those rights to join a team in his home state. (If this is the case, the Angels and Athletics would also seem like hypothetical fits for a Duffy trade.)