Monday, December 18, 2017

Setting Our Sites On Another Trade Target

Not long ago I said that the Yankees should trade Clint Frazier for a good, young, starter such as Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer. The reaction to that piece has been a little mixed. Some thought like me and agreed that Clint Frazier was no longer necessary, and his value should be used to improve the rotation both now and for the future. Others didn't like the idea of trading Frazier at all, as they believe he has a bright future, and the Yankees may need a regular left fielder other than Stanton or Judge after all.

As a follow up to that post I started to write about teams that would like to add Frazier, as their own left fielders leave a lot to be desired. The first team that I started to research was the Kansas City Royals.

Back in January of 2016 Kansas City signed Alex Gordon to a four year deal that would pay him $72 million, and included a mutual option for a fifth year. The average annual value of the deal was a bit high, but certainly not ridiculous seeing that Gordon had been a very good player for the Royals over the previous five seasons.

Unfortunately Alex's offensive productivity took a nosedive right away. While Gordon hit .281/.359/.450 between 2011 and 2015, since then he's hit .214/.302/.346. I'm sure the Royals, and their fans, have gone from thinking left field was covered through the rest of the decade, to thinking "how do we get through this?"

That is where Clint Frazier would fit in very nicely. If they had to, the Royals could pay a chunk of Gordon's contract to trade him away, and pay Clint the league minimum to take over.

Thanks to plenty of talk about him, the name Danny Duffy came to mind. I started thinking, "is this a perfect match?"

Duffy's ERA+ was a very nice 117 last season, his first season in which he started in every appearance. Sure, he may have started 26 games in 2016, but he appeared as a reliever in 16 other games.

Another nice stat I saw on Danny's Baseball Reference page was his home run rate, which actually went down from 1.4 in 2016 to 0.8 in 2017. While that number is nice on it's own, when you realize that there were 495 more home runs hit in 2017 than 2016, that home run rate drop is even more impressive.

So it goes without saying that adding Danny Duffy to the Yankees' rotation would be pretty cool. But here's where it gets better, and ties into the Clint Frazier thing...

The Yankees wouldn't have to include Red Thunder in a trade for Duffy.

Before this past season Kansas City signed Duffy to an extension that pays him $60 million over the next four years (it was originally a five year extension for $65 million, but it only paid him $5 million in 2017). And that's why Frazier would not have to be included in a trade here.

Think about it... the Yankees have discussed using Frazier to get guys like Gerrit Cole, who will make around $7.5 million (his projected salary according to MLB Trade Rumors), while Duffy will get $14 million.

"Okay, you won't give me Clint Frazier. So now what?"

So what would it take to trade for Danny Duffy? Well, let's move on...

Now $15 million a year isn't a ton of money, but when you see that Kansas City had a total payroll just over $140 million in 2017, finished two games under .500, and had the 4th worst offense in the American League, saving that money could make life with Alex Gordon much more livable while allowing them to give somebody else a shot out there.

Furthermore, the Royals have some nice pitching prospects that are ready to debut in the big leagues now or very soon. Their #5 prospect started 19 games for AAA Omaha in 2017, their #6 prospect started 18 games in AA, and their #9 prospect started 15 games at AAA Omaha.

I'm sure the Royals would get a young, controllable starter in return for Duffy, too. No, I don't think it would take somebody like Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Domingo Acevedo, or Albert Abreu. But perhaps KC would like to add Dillon Tate, who saw some starts in AA last year. Heck, include another young starter who may be a bit further away from MLB, like Freicer Perez, Matt Sauer, or Clarke Schmidt.

What about a position player to add to the deal? The Royals may very well lose Eric Hosmer to free agency, so what about offering Tyler Austin?

With the Yankees having enough room under the Luxury Tax threshold to pay Duffy $13 million (the AAV of his deal), Danny being under team control through his age 32 season, and being able to hold onto Clint Frazier and other top prospects like Sheffield, Adams, and Esteven Florial, this trade seems like a no-brainer.

The only question remaing is would the Royals do something along the lines of Tyler Austin, Dillon Tate, Matt Sauer, and another small piece for Danny Duffy? sa