Lucas Duda

Royals do the right thing and deal Duda

Following a 9-2 victory against the Tigers (it was a sweep!), the Royals announced they sent first baseman Lucas Duda to Atlanta for cash considerations or a player to be named later. 

As written in this space on Tuesday, the Royals needed to deal Duda for myriad reasons. The expectation wasn’t about receiving a prospect. An org guy (as in a PTBNL) or cash was all the Royals could expect. For a contender, Duda represents a platoon option or a decent left-handed bat to deploy off the bench.

Dave O’Brien from the Atlanta branch of The Athletic, reports that the two teams will split the remainder of the contract. As I mentioned on Tuesday, there is still the matter of plate appearance bonus money. He is set to collect another $100,000 after he gets nine more PAs. Since his playing time is now up to Atlanta, I would imagine they are responsible for the bonus money. Except Duda arrives to be a left-handed bat off the bench, so his time is going to be limited. His bonus structure calls for $100k to be paid every 25 plate appearances. Given his new role, it seems unlikely he will cash more than two of those at his new address.

This obviously opens a space on the 25-man roster. As of this writing (Thursday morning) the Royals haven’t announced who will fill the spot. They could call up Paulo Orlando (oof) and platoon first base with Hunter Dozier and Ryan O’Hearn with Rosell Herrera as a super utility man. They could also keep the spot on the 40-man roster open until Jorge Soler is finished with his rehab and recalled from the 60-day DL. Soler will only DH in September, so O’Hearn will need to get most of his reps at first. If the Royals hold to their usual M.O., we should get our answer as to the open roster spot sometime after the lunch hour. 

Whatever move they make, it’s a damn jigsaw puzzle figuring out this roster.

It’s difficult to think of a signature Duda Royals moment. At least with him wearing a Kansas City uniform. Perhaps his Opening Day home run against James Shields and the White Sox to open the scoring for 2018. The problem was, there wasn’t a lot of scoring that followed. Looking back at that Opening Day lineup, a third of the players have been traded (Duda, Jon Jay and Mike Moustakas), two are on the 60-day disabled list (Cheslor Cuthbert and Soler) and two players aren’t regulars (Alcides Escobar and Drew Butera who was subbing for the injured Salvador Perez). That leaves just Alex Gordon and Whit Merrifield. I can’t honestly say that’s surprising.

The Royals did exactly what they needed to do (for the most part) when it came to building their roster for this season. The veterans they signed to one-year contracts were properly showcased and moved at the right time. That also goes for closer Kelvin Herrera. The only roster misstep as far as adding players would be bringing back Alcides Escobar, but we’ve been over that before. (There’s a reason he’s not going to be traded. It’s the same reason no other team besides the Royals offered him a major league contract last winter.) You could make the argument against Justin Grimm or Blaine Boyer, but you have to throw some money at relievers. Those guys represent a crapshoot. It didn’t work out this year.

From the department of time marches on, MLB announced spring training schedules for 2019 on Tuesday. The Royals are slated to play 33 Cactus League games starting February 23. That’s 33 exhibition games.

Winters are too damn long and the gap from the final out of the World Series to the first pitch of Spring Training is interminable. Yet Spring Training just grinds on and on. Of course, the communities, the hotels and the chain restaurants depend on the visitors baseball brings. It’s become its own little cottage industry where you have to pay the freight if you want to watch. The Royals average ticket at Surprise Stadium last March was listed as $30.52. That’s straight larceny. 

Besides, it was a little strange to see MLB release this schedule just a week after unveiling the 2019 regular season slate. And in August as the pennant races should be front and center. Why not follow the NFL model and release these just after the completion of the World Series? November is the worst month for baseball news as the free agent market hasn’t opened up and the Winter Meetings are a few weeks off. Why not keep baseball in the sports conversation of the dead space that comes prior to Thanksgiving? It’s not like you can buy tickets or book your travel for a particular road series now. What could it hurt to wait?

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