The Royals are reportedly listening in on deals for anyone in the organization right now, even valuable long-term players like Danny Duffy. The left-hander has drawn interest from the Chicago Cubs, according to FanRag reporter Robert Murray. Murray also writes that the Cubs are interested in left-handed reliever Scott Alexander.
The Cubs made a big splash last summer acquiring Jose Quintana and signed right-hander Tyler Chatwood last week, but may face the departure of Jake Arrieta. Duffy signed a five-year, $65 million contract last January and has frequently stated his desire to stay in Kansas City.
Duffy had a 3.81 ERA and 3.46 FIP in 24 starts for the Royals with 3.4 WAR, according to Fangraphs. He has had trouble staying on the field however, and has never made as many as 30 starts in a season. He landed on the disabled list with elbow soreness last August, and had surgery this off-season to remove loose bodies from his elbow, although he should be ready for spring training. Duffy also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012.
Despite his injury risk, Duffy should be in high demand on the trade market. Just five left-handed starting pitchers in baseball have a lower ERA or FIP over the last two seasons than Duffy. He has struck out nearly a hitter-per-inning over that time, and at age 28, should be in the prime of his career.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield suggested Duffy would be a good fit for the Cubs with second baseman/outfielder Ian Happ as a return piece for the Royals.
I like Happ's bat -- 24 home runs in 364 at-bats as a rookie -- and versatility in the field and you'd get six seasons of team control versus four for Duffy, so he fits into a long-term scenario and would be a guy the Royals can build around. Done.
The switch-hitting Happ hit .253/.328/.514 with 24 home runs in 115 games in his rookie campaign for the Cubs at age 23. In the minors, the Cubs no longer have any elite prospects, but have a number of solid “B” level prospects that could help the Royals refresh their depleted farm system.
Trading Duffy would be very painful for Royals fans and the organization. Kansas City has worked so hard to become an attractive place for players to play, and Duffy is finally player who seems to love playing for this organization. The Royals have had a special relationship with Duffy, delicately guiding him when he walked away from baseball as a minor leaguer, and reprimanding him, but with love when he was recently charged with a DUI.
However, if the Royals are serious about a rebuild, they will need to make hard trades of popular players. Duffy has some of the most trade value of anyone in the organization, and the Royals should be able to ask for a good haul of prospects. The Royals should not be motivated sellers, but if someone wants to make them a great offer, the Royals should certainly consider it.