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Royals sign first baseman Duda to 1-year deal

Veteran's contract worth $3.5 million with $1.3 million in incentives
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Lucas Duda will be forever entrenched in Royals lore because of his wild throw with the Mets in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. The errant toss allowed Eric Hosmer's famous Mad Dash to be successful, tying the game in the ninth inning and paving the way for an eventual Royals championship.

Now, of all things, Duda will be replacing Hosmer at first base in a Royals uniform.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Lucas Duda will be forever entrenched in Royals lore because of his wild throw with the Mets in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. The errant toss allowed Eric Hosmer's famous Mad Dash to be successful, tying the game in the ninth inning and paving the way for an eventual Royals championship.

Now, of all things, Duda will be replacing Hosmer at first base in a Royals uniform.

Duda signed a one-year deal with the Royals on Wednesday. A source confirmed the deal is worth $3.5 million with $1.3 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances -- Duda will get $100,000 for reaching 300 PAs with a total of 13 intervals from there, maxing out at 600 PAs.

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Naturally, after arriving in camp, Duda was asked about the infamous Game 5 play.

"Funny how baseball works out," Duda said. "You learn from failure. For Kansas City fans who don't think I'm the right fit, I'm out to prove them wrong."

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The Royals designated for assignment outfielder Billy Burns, who was out of options, to make room on the 40-man roster.

The Royals had been exploring internal options at first base after Hosmer signed with the Padres. Those options included 26-year-old Hunter Dozier, who is trying to make the conversion from third base and the outfield to first base.

The signing of Duda, 32, gives the Royals a veteran presence on the field and in the clubhouse, but likely will ticket Dozier for Triple-A Omaha, unless he can wow the coaching staff this spring and make the club at another position.

"I really just found out a few minutes ago," Dozier said. "To me, it doesn't change anything. I'm still going to do whatever I can to make this team."

Royals general manager Dayton Moore was adamant that the Duda signing will not block the long-term progress of Dozier or any other of the young first-base prospects, such as Ryan O'Hearn or Frank Schwindel.

"As I said before, we're very encouraged about our first-base options going forward," Moore said. "But it puts us in a position where we don't have to rush the process. We've seen players like Whit Merrifield, we've seen players like Paulo Orlando, the importance of getting a lot of at-bats at the Minor League level as they mature, and then when they get to the Major League level and they're much more productive.

"We want to give them perhaps some more time. Doesn't mean that their time won't happen at some point during the 2018 season, but we'll see. Remember, too, Hunter played 34 or 36 games last year [because of injuries]."

Tweet from @Royals: We have signed first baseman Lucas Duda to a one-year deal. Welcome to the #Royals! pic.twitter.com/pM2oybNhhk

Duda, who hit 30 home runs last season between the Mets and the Rays, gives the Royals another left-handed bat in a prominently right-handed lineup. He is seventh in Mets franchise history with 125 home runs.

Hitting at spacious Kauffman Stadium, though, will present challenges.

"We'll see. Maybe [those home runs] turn into doubles," Duda said. "It's a beautiful stadium with great fans. We'll see what happens."

Royals manager Ned Yost said Duda should be able to see game action within a week or so.

Video: How Duda joining the Royals impacts fantasy drafts

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
A career .242 hitter who sometimes struggles against left-handers (he has a career .659 OPS against lefties), Duda lacks the overall profile to warrant attention in 10-team leagues. However, the slugger has produced at least 27 homers in three of the past four seasons and should overcome the power-suppressing nature of Kauffman Stadium to provide at least 25 homers for wise deep-mixed owners. Duda carries extra intrigue in daily-transaction leagues, where his skills vs. righties (a career .842 OPS) can be maximized.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Lucas Duda