As music pumped into the Royals clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, the clearest sign of a second straight series victory, players greeted first baseman Lucas Duda with parting handshakes. Minutes after leaving the field of a 9-2 Royals win, Duda was informed his tenure in Kansas City was over after just six months.
The Royals traded Duda, an impending free agent, to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations.
The deal comes two days before the MLB playoff roster deadline. Atlanta leads in the National League East Division.
“A little surprised,” Duda said. “I’ve grown close to guys here. Since I got here, it’s been a first-class organization from top to bottom. It’s just another page in your career, so I’m glad to go over to a situation in Atlanta and compete for a playoff spot.”
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The Royals signed Duda to a one-year, $3.5 million contract in late February. The transaction frees up a spot on the 40-man roster three days before September call-ups. Royals manager Ned Yost has already said the team plans to activate Jorge Soler from the 60-day disabled list early next week, which would require an opening on the 40-man roster.
Atlanta will cover half of Duda’s remaining $600,000 salary, with the Royals paying the rest, according to David O’Brien, reporter for The Athletic who covers the Braves.
Duda, 32, hit .242 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI with the Royals. He was 1 for 4 in Wednesday afternoon’s win, ultimately his last day in a Kansas City uniform.
It’s the second consecutive season in which he has been traded. He was moved from the New York Mets to Tampa Bay last July. He survived the initial wave of deals at this summer’s non-waiver trade deadline — hence the surprise he mentioned Wednesday.
Duda is hitting .257 with six home runs since the all-star break.
“There’s always a chance,” Duda said. “Obviously I wasn’t hitting well, so that’s a big culprit. But it is what it is. I’m going to go there and play hard and try to fit in and see what happens.”