We have had close to a month to digest the Danny Duffy extension, so maybe it’s time we talked. The move was met with virtually unanimous positive feedback for perhaps the first time in Dayton Moore’s decade in Kansas City. FanGraphs went as far to say that Duffy “has it in him to be one of the better starting pitchers in the league.”
There is more to this story, however. And it could get a little bit awkward.
On the day the signing was announced, David Schoenfield tweeted this:
Smart move by the #Royals to give their money to Danny Duffy instead of Eric Hosmer.— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) January 16, 2017
Now, I’m new here. But anybody who knows me knows that I am not exactly Eric Hosmer’s biggest advocate.
And I was delighted to see this specific tweet because it is something I have been hoping for the last few months. I think the choice was obvious: Give your money to the left-handed power arm at a premier position, rather than the defense-first guy at a less important position that has never hit for power.
The Royals did just that, and while the Royals have no realistic shot at extending Hosmer or Moustakas or Cain before they hit the market, the extension does show Duffy’s value to the organization.
But is what Schoenfield said really what happened? Did the Royals take allotted Hosmer money and give it to Duffy?
The Dayton Moore administration has always been unique in the sense that they value the “family” vibe they put off more than most teams. Historically, that has come back to bite them multiple times, whether it being not trading Joakim Soria (part I) or trading Wade Davis well past his peak value, when the Royals were never true enough contenders in 2016 to justify keeping him.
We also all remember last February, when Hosmer said that he was open to a long-term deal in Kansas City, to which we all laughed. In that article, Moore said that the Royals “fully expect to sign as many of our players that we currently have on our team to long-term contracts.”
That has always been his tune. And as someone who severely doubted the Royals ability to do so, as well as being someone who thinks paying Eric Hosmer $100 million is a complete sham, I balked at this idea.
However, Moore’s tune has shifted a bit, which makes what Schoenfield tweeted a little bit more likely. As the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger wrote back in December, David Glass’ refusal to take on more payroll in 2017 “caught some [members within the organization] like a punch in the nose.” Mellinger did not specifically name these members, or if that is even plural, but Moore may be among those wounded.
Even if his (public) support of Glass hasn’t waned, you get the feeling that his expectation regarding re-signing as many core players as possible has taken a hit. The players have begun publicly acknowledging this. Lorenzo Cain has spoken about it. Danny Duffy spoke about it after signing his deal.
“In the perfect world, the boys stay together until we’re 50,” Duffy said. “But the fact of the matter is baseball is just not that way. It’s a business, too.
“I’m sure everybody in this organization would like to keep the core group together — all the guys that we played with. It just doesn’t happen. Hopefully we can. Hopefully this sparks some kind of interest.”
I do not believe this to be Moore adapting. I believe this to be Dayton Moore with his back against the wall, trying to salvage his core for one last run in 2017, while also trying to prepare for the future. He is trying to have his cake and eat it too, with handcuffs on. And while I would prefer him choosing one or the other, he has done in admirable job, acquiring eight years of club control on two players - Jorge Soler and Nate Karns - for a 31-year old reliever and a part-time outfielder. And while this might not be him adapting, this adverse circumstance might just allow Moore to backdoor into the correct handling of his free agents next winter.
I say this because what Schoenfield said is right. Danny Duffy is a left-handed power arm, who now all of a sudden has two effective secondary pitches. Eric Hosmer is a defense-first player at a position where power is a prerequisite. As the Royals rebuild past 2017, with what Keith Law describes as the fifth worst farm system in baseball, Dayton Moore cannot afford to allocate major funds to a player that may not pay him back.
Eric Hosmer on a potential $80-100 million deal, as a below average hitter at a premier offensive position, will have a hard time living up to the value of that money.
Danny Duffy on a club-friendly deal with have a hard time not paying him back.
So yes, David Schoenfield, it was a smart move for the Royals to give their money to Danny Duffy instead of Eric Hosmer. Whether or not Moore sees that is yet to be seen.