Duffy dealt to LA for player to be named later

July 30th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- In the midst of his 15th year in the Royals organization, is headed west to pitch for his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Royals traded the veteran left-hander and cash to the Dodgers on Thursday for a player to be named in a move that will bolster Los Angeles’ rotation with a potential arms race developing in the National League West.

Duffy, 32, waived his 10-and-5 rights to go to the city that is about 2 1/2 hours from where he grew up in Lompoc, Calif., and pitch in the stadium where he grew up going to baseball games with his dad. The deal gives Duffy a chance to earn a second World Series championship following his title run with the Royals in 2015.

While Duffy is currently on the 10-day injured list with a left flexor forearm strain, he is expected to return to the mound by late August if he stays on track with his rehab, and he can add an arm to the Dodgers’ rotation -- or even a strong bullpen arm -- as the reigning World Series champions race toward a deep October run.

A free agent at the end of this season, Duffy and the Royals began to have discussions about a potential trade before the All-Star break, when he wasn’t on the IL. His injury put a pause on those talks, but they heated up again ahead of Friday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, although greatly diminishing Kansas City’s potential return. Duffy posted a 2.51 ERA in 13 outings (12 starts) this season but has been on the injured list twice, both times with a left flexor forearm strain.

“That’s just part of the game,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “That happens, unfortunately. But we still felt that the return was value enough for us to do what was right for the organization and also do what was right for Danny. I do know that he had a desire to pitch for the Dodgers and be in a pennant race and potentially win a World Series. That was appealing to him.”

The player to the named in the deal will be revealed within the next few months, but the clubs have already agreed to the pool of players the Royals will scout and choose from. The cash sent over helped “a little bit” with that group of players, but it was mainly included in the deal to offset Duffy being on the IL at the time of the deal and the uncertainty of how much he’ll pitch for the Dodgers.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that there were a lot of teams willing to acquire Danny at this point in time,” Moore said. “Because he is on the IL, I understand that. If he would have stayed healthy at this point in time, I think there would have been a lot of suitors for Danny and the return would have been much greater, but that’s the way it goes.

“At the end of the day, we made the best deal we could. And we believe we were able to move Danny to the place he really desired, and we made the best deal we could. So we’re comfortable with it.”

As Friday’s Deadline inches near, the Royals are continuing conversations about players with expiring contracts, including Jorge Soler, Greg Holland and Michael A. Taylor. Moore remained firm on his stance that he is reluctant to trade players with years remaining on their contracts for prospects.

“We want to make sure we’re as strong as we possibly can be in 2022,” Moore said. “I don’t want to trade Mike Minor. I don’t want to trade Whit Merrifield. I don’t want to trade Carlos Santana. I think we’re pretty disciplined with what we want back, in terms of players, if we’re ever going to deal some of our Major League talent. Right now, I don’t see us doing that.”

Duffy was a Dodgers fan as a kid, but he grew up with the Royals. He was drafted out of high school in 2007 and made his big league debut in 2011. Duffy’s career stats with the Royals are solid: He was 68-68 with a 3.95 ERA and 1,048 strikeouts across 1,172 1/3 innings. He was part of the Royals’ postseason appearances in 2014 and ’15, and he ranks sixth in club history in strikeouts, seventh in starts, eighth in innings pitched and 11th in wins. He set a franchise record with 16 strikeouts in a single game against the Rays in 2016.

But there’s more that tells the story of Duffy’s time as a Royal.

He wore No. 30 this year to honor his former teammate Yordano “Ace” Ventura, who died in 2017. Duffy was one of the players who mourned with fans outside Kauffman Stadium that day. He began collecting Ventura memorabilia to send Ventura’s mom, Marisol Hernández, in the Dominican Republic.

There was one tweet Duffy sent in 2017 as trade rumors swirled -- “Bury me a Royal” -- that depicted his love for the organization. And of course, the one bear suit he wore during an interview when the Royals clinched the American League Central title in 2015.

Duffy was an essential part of the Royals' core that rose to two American League championships and one World Series title. He did it as a fierce competitor but also as a one-of-a-kind teammate and a special person who never shied away from showing who he was during the club’s ups and downs.

“It’s never easy,” Moore said. “We truly love Danny. We’ve all been through a lot together. … There’s just a lot of great memories to celebrate. Those are forever part of our memory bank, and we’ll cherish them. We’ll look forward to new chapters as well. This is a new, exciting chapter for Danny, as he gets the opportunity to pitch on the West Coast for the Dodgers.

“I’m just very proud of him. We all are. We’re all proud of who he is, who he has become, and we’re excited about who is going to continue to be and kind of spread whatever he learned in Kansas City. That’s the beautiful part of teams and the beautiful part of baseball.”