The Kansas City Royals signed Lucas Duda to a minor league deal on Friday. What exactly is the point of this signing? The Royals have options at first base and these players will actually be a part of the rebuild.
The Kansas City Royals have made some puzzling signings this offseason, but one of the weirder ones actually just happened on Friday. The team announced they signed first baseman Lucas Duda to a minor league deal.
Look, I get it. It’s only a minor league deal and Duda could easily not make the team and this whole thing is forgotten about before we know it. With that said, however, it’s still a perplexing move.
The Royals have options at first base moving forward, with Ryan O’Hearn the likely starter there come Opening Day. Hunter Dozier also spent time at first base last season, but he’ll probably a good chunk of time on the over side of the diamond at third base.
As Jeffrey Flanagan noted in the tweet linked above, Ned Yost likes Duda’s chances to make the 25-man roster, serving as a left-handed bat. Him saying that it won’t affect the development of O’Hearn or Dozier needs to be said because it’s what fans want to hear.
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The point of rebuilding is to let the younger guys get at bats and play in meaningful games. Signing veterans to take playing time away from those players isn’t what the Royals should be doing.
With Nick Pratto still a few years away from making the big leagues, the Royals only need a temporary guy to man first base. Once Pratto is ready for his call-up, he’ll be the long-term answer at first base (that’s the plan anyway), so if O’Hearn can be serviceable until then, that’s all the Royals need.
Duda spent part of last year in Kansas City, appearing in 87 games with a .242 batting average in 310 at bats. He hit 13 home runs and 48 RBIs during his time as a Royal and was flipped to the Braves at the trade deadline and took some at bats with them in the NLDS.
It appears Dayton Moore liked Duda enough to give him another chance with the organization, but this is a move that didn’t need to be made. Let Ryan O’Hearn take his lumps in what will be his first full year in the league.
And if, for some reason, O’Hearn struggles, there are other options at first base. Frank Schwindel could be someone worth taking a chance on this year and it seems like he always gets the shaft. Duda being with the Royals now makes it very likely that we don’t see Schwindel for the duration of the season (though hopefully he gets a September call-up at the very least).
While Lucas Duda has been a nice player throughout his career, the Kansas City Royals have no use for him in what’s going to be another rebuilding season for the boys in blue.