Expected to be one of the top pitching free agents after the 2017 season, Danny Duffy will no longer hit the free agent market after the Royals and Duffy agreed to a five-year extension worth $65 million. The news was first reported this afternoon by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports
Duffy, 27, was set to enter his his final arbitration year in 2017, but with the deal, the Royals effectively bought his final arbitration year and the first four years of his free agency. In what seems like a good deal for both sides, Duffy gets insurance in case of injury and is guaranteed $65 million and the Royals get a potential front-line starter in his prime years.
Duffy is one of several young pieces the Royals were seeking to resign and keep with the team for years to come. The team is looking to keep several potential free agents, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar. The team has already dealt a couple potential free agents in Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson. For a smaller market team like Kansas City, it would have taken some very team-friendly deals to keep all the core young players, and while that is not the most feasible, they are trying to give the best deals they can, while also making sure it makes sense for the team from a financial perspective.
One of the top left-handers in the game, Duffy is coming off a breakout 2016 season in which he finished 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA. He posted a solid 2.8 WAR last season, a career-best. The Royals believe the lefty will be able to repeat his success over the next five years, if not improving upon it.
Duffy has always been considered to have plus stuff from the left side. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has hard, biting slider. He even throws a solid changeup with late fade, giving him an arsenal few possess. The one knock that seems to have followed Duffy throughout his career is his lack of control and command of his pitches. He did a much better job last season of limiting walks and keeping his pitch count down in order to work deeper into games, so the Royals are banking on his continued progress in this area.
There were rumors earlier this offseason that the Royals were at least listening to other teams' offers for the lefty, but nothing seemed close at any point. In the end, the Royals get to keep their man and Duffy gets a very good deal, a potential fruitful deal for both sides.