Royals Roundtable: Is it time to lock up Danny Duffy?

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Danny Duffy started the 2016 season in the bullpen – the second time in six years this was the case for Duffy – and this time it looked like it was going to be permanent. Despite posting a 3.80 ERA and a 24-30 record in his first five years as a starting pitcher (2015 was his “worst” year as a starter, posting a 4.35 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 51 walks in 24 starts), Duffy’s inconsistency with the strike zone led to high pitch counts and was one of the main factors in landing in the bullpen.

In the spring Duffy made insinuated that he preferred to pitch out of the pen, because of the mentality it takes to come into the game and let it fly.

In the ‘pen, Duffy finally figured out how to throw strikes. He pounded the zone at a better rate in any year of his career (70%, 6% higher than career mark), striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings (7.6 career) with a 4.20 strikeout to walk ratio. His ERA was at 3.00 with a 1.222 WHIP and opposing batters were slashing .250/.297/.371. Then, the Royals then placed 40% of their rotation (Chris Young, Kris Medlen) on the DL in one day and the Royals had little choice but to insert him back into the rotation. Originally just a temporary move, all he has done in 10 starts since, is impress going 4-1 with a 3.14 ERA, a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.994), 10.4 K/9, 6.0 strikeout to walk ratio with opponents hitting .220/.276/.411 off of him (10 HR allowed).

The guy that was inserted into the rotation as a temporary fix, forced Ned Yost’s hand to keep him in the rotation and is now the Royals best starting pitcher.

Can we credit Duffy’s transition to the bullpen – learning to throw strikes, cutting down on the walks and increasing his strikeouts – as the reason for Duffy’s success? He’s still throwing strikes, he’s still not walking anyone and he’s doing pitching solely from the stretch, but it’s probably mostly due to maturity more than anything else. And his last two starts have been his best, allowing just four runs in 16.2 innings (2.16 ERA) while striking out 16 and walking none – giving him at least eight strikeouts in five of his last six starts, walking no one in three of those starts. After tossing eight innings in Monday, which tied his career-high for innings, he surpassed it Saturday, getting within one out of a complete game in the 6-2 win.

This raises the question, with just one year of arbitration remaining next year (forecasted to earn $6-8 million) before he hits free agency in 2018, has Duffy shown enough promise this year for the Royals to give him an extension? And, if so, how much would he cost?

This same question was asked to Jeff Passan on 610’s afternoon show “the Drive” last week, and it was suggested that Duffy was worth $60 million over five years. He adamantly scoffed at the notion

Let’s ask the panel:

Conrad says: “I think given that he’s never pitched a full season (as a starter) and his inconsistencies, he could be locked up at a reasonable price, maybe 4 years, $25-30 million.”

But, since pitching is the currency of baseball, “maybe 4/$40M?”

  • 2017: $7.5M
  • 2018: $9M
  • 2019: $10.5M
  • 2020: $13M

Moped says: “If the question is, would I offer Danny Duffy a 5-year/$25-30 million deal right now; the answer is yes. But, if the question is would he take it, absolutely not. Why would he?”

“The next question is why would either side do five years? If the Royals fear his inconsistency, just do a 2-year extension. All of this depends on where they project him, of course. If he’s a starter, give him an average of $10M per year. And, that’s probably what it would take. The media routinely undervalues pay. It’s a free market. A left-hander than throws mid-90’s? He’ll get paid.”

Joe Hayles, when asked if he would offer Duffy a 5-year, $25M guaranteed ($40-$50 with incentives) deal, said, “Yes. As long as it is incentives-based. I might go 5/$30M, but I wouldn’t give him $40M guaranteed.”

Realizing that incentives aren’t a commonplace in contracts for pitchers like Duffy, he adds, “he hasn’t proved anything but his inconsistency. This amount of money will be pennies five years from now…it’ll probably take $9-10M over 4-5 years to get it done.”

Tom Hanken says: “For the right price, yes, extend him. $8-9 million a year – 5/$45M. If he can’t maintain as a starter, he’ll be a good to dominate bullpen guy.

Sarah says: “I would do the $35-$40 million. Just because Duffy is inconsistent at times, I’d probably do that over four years with a fifth year club option. I think Duffy would absolutely do that. He’s made it known that he loves Kansas City, and if they’re offering that much of a pay increase for him, I don’t think he would turn it down.”

“If you have to, go to $40-$45 million and hope he repeats success, but $60 million over 4-5 years is way too much for a pitcher with the history of Danny Duffy.”

Luke says: “I’d take Duffy on 5/$40M in a heartbeat, but I don’t think he would sign it. He might for 5/$50M.”

Seems like most are pretty much on board with locking up Danny Duffy, and the amount of money it’ll take to do so is pretty consistent across the panel, with some difference on length of contract. I think $9-$10M per is probably what it’ll take, especially if he finishes the year in rotation and like he started it as a starter over his first 10 starts. But, he still he has injury history and has yet – including this one – to last a whole season as a starting pitcher at the MLB level. Maybe three years, with a couple option years tacked on at the end.

What do you think Royals fans, is it time to lock up the Duff Man?


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  1. […] Trailing the league leaders by 30-plus innings, Duffy may not have the workload to win the Cy Young, but the fact that we’re talking about it is amazing considering he wasn’t in the rotation when the season started. Duffy has always had the “stuff,” but now he has discovered how to pitch and we wondered earlier in the season if it was time to lock up Duffy. […]

  2. […] Trailing the league leaders by 30-plus innings, Duffy may not have the workload to win the Cy Young, but the fact that we’re talking about it is amazing considering he wasn’t in the rotation when the season started. Duffy has always had the “stuff,” but now he has discovered how to pitch and we wondered earlier in the season if it wastime to lock up Duffy. […]