GM Mode: Texas Rangers Add Controllable Starter from Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JUNE 06: Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the 1st inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium on June 06, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JUNE 06: Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the 1st inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium on June 06, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

As the Texas Rangers ponder their plans for the trade market, adding a controllable starter from Kansas City would benefit both the present and the future.

The Texas Rangers are stuck in between two minds when entering the 2019 trade deadline period.  Texas currently sits at 42-36 and a game out of the AL Wild Card. Divisionally, they sit 6.5 games back of the Astros but have closed the gap a little after a rough patch for Houston. This gives the Rangers and the front office a decision to make, buy now and hope to make an outside push at the playoffs, or sell and continue to rebuild for the future as planned.

Right now, the Rangers are in need of another starter to bolster their rotation and provide support for Mike Minor and Lance Lynn who are currently shouldering the load. But starting pitching always comes at a premium this time of year and Jon Daniels has made it clear that he’s not interested in mortgaging the future for this season. Texas had been in the “win now” mode for years in the early 2010s and the aftereffects are being felt in the minor league system. Another year of that could potentially devastate an already thin farm system. Texas also has a very outside shot at making a run. While we’re all for competing, a rental starter will most likely not propel the Rangers to the promised land. So that limits Texas to controllable starting pitching with a low asking price. That severely limits the list of potential pieces but it doesn’t empty it completely. Of the list of controllable starters that won’t command loads of young talent, the name Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals stands out which brings us to this edition of GM Mode at Nolan Writin’.

Making the Deal

Danny Duffy has been a name floated out in plenty of deadline rumors in years past but has always managed to stay with the Royals. Across his career, he’s been a solid starter amassing 169 starts and 197 total appearances. His career 3.96 ERA is impressive and his career 1.325 WHIP isn’t a turn-off. He’s never been a strikeout guy only surpassing the 9.0 SO/9 threshold in one full season back in 2016. His career SO/9 sits a 7.9 which isn’t eye-popping, however, it’s also not far off current Rangers’ ace Mike Minor’s career average of 8.1.

Duffy had a rough 2018 season posting a 4.88 ERA and a WHIP near 1.500 which took the shine off of him a bit. He posted a WAR of just 0.8 in his 28 starts and lost a bit of the effectiveness we’d seen in years past. In 2019, Duffy has struggled a bit but improved compared to 2018 making 11 starts and throwing 62 1/3 innings to this point. He’s got a 4.48 ERA and a 1.348 WHIP which aren’t the ace numbers we’ve seen before, but are still solid enough to land him a mid-rotation spot with Texas. The bright spot is that because Duffy hasn’t been quite as effective in years past, the Royals asking price might have dropped.

Duffy signed a 5 year, $65 million deal with Kansas City back in 2017 that locked him up through the 2021 season. At the time KC was hoping Duffy could lead them on various postseason pushes over the next few years. However, the Royals have struggled as a club and look nowhere near being competitive in the near future and no doubt will be looking to get out of Danny Duffy’s contract which is more or less useless to them. In steps Texas who could use a reliable starter for the next couple of years and won’t be turned off necessarily by his contract.

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Rangers Get Danny Duffy and Cash

This year Duffy was due $15,250,000 and likely is still due around $7 million for the remainder of the year. In 2020 Duffy will cost $15,250,000 and $15,500,000 in the 2021 season. So in total, he’s owed around $37 million still on this current contract. In this deal, Texas gets the controllable starter that allows them to compete this season and moving forward. Additionally, the Royals provide $10 million to help offset the cost of Duffy’s deal essentially costing Texas $7 million this year, $10,250,000 million next season and $10,500,000 in 2021. At only 30, Duffy should have a few quality years ahead of him and wouldn’t likely see a big regression before his contract runs out.

Royals Get Prospect Scott Heineman

Heineman is a name that I think we’ll see pop up on a lot of trade predictions and rumors this summer because of his situation. He’s been an effective minor league player for the Rangers but has yet to get a real shot in Arlington. At only 26, he still sits in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 prospect list at #27 and still has a decently high ceiling. However, for Texas, he’s stuck behind a logjam of outfielders and will struggle to ever really get an opportunity.

Kansas City likely would love to get out of Duffy’s deal and save some money over the next couple of years and netting a Top 30 prospect who is near-Major League ready could get this deal across the line. KC will hopefully get Heineman the shot he’s looking for and could develop him into an everyday outfielder and saves upward of $25 million in the process.

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