Matt Duffy and David Bote have something in common.
No, it’s not just that they are both now members of the Chicago Cubs organization after Duffy was signed to a minor-league deal by the team Monday.
The #Cubs sign infielder Matt Duffy to a minor-league deal that will pay him $1 million if he makes their big-league team with $500,000 in incentives. He was in the #Rangers and #Yankees organizations last season.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 21, 2020
It’s that they were both drafted in the 18th round in 2012. Bote came out of a small college in Kansas, Neosho County Community College, while Duffy went to Cal State-Long Beach. Duffy was selected 14 picks after Bote. Just two other players from that round have played in MLB: Jackson Stephens (Reds) and Brady Lail (Yankees, White Sox, Mariners).
Duffy had more MLB success early. In 2015 with the Giants he hit .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases and finished second to Kris Bryant in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Duffy fell on hard times after that; halfway through a mediocre 2016 season he was traded to the Rays for Matt Moore. Moore, you might recall, handcuffed the Cubs in Game 4 of the Division Series in 2016 before the Giants bullpen melted down in a furious Cubs rally in the ninth inning.
Anyway, Duffy suffered an Achilles injury just 21 games into his Rays career and missed all of the 2017 season. He came back to hit .294/.361/.366 in 2019, similar numbers to 2015 except with much less power, and then played only 46 games for the Rays in 2019 as more injuries piled up.
The Rays released him after 2019. He went to Spring Training in 2020 with the Rangers, was let go in late June, signed with the Yankees but was limited to duty at their alternate site this past season.
This is a low-risk, high-reward signing. Duffy turns 30 in January and, if healthy, could be a good bench player for the 2021 Cubs. The money’s quite reasonable.
This is the kind of signing and/or acquisition we’re going to see this winter. If you were looking for a bigger name, look elsewhere.
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