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Lucas Duda, Kansas City Royals agree to a $3.5M, 1-year deal


    Kansas City Royals first baseman Lucas Duda fields a ball during a drill before a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Surprise, Ariz. on Feb. 28.

SURPRISE, Ariz. >> Lucas Duda’s arm was challenged by Eric Hosmer, who made a delayed dash home on the high throw to score the tying run in the ninth inning of what turned out to be the finale of the Kansas City Royals’ five-game win over the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series.

Now Duda is replacing Hosmer.

“It’s funny how baseball works out,” Duda said Wednesday after agreeing to a $3.5 million, one-year contract with the Royals that allows him to earn $1.3 million more in performance bonuses. “You definitely learn from failure. It makes you strong as a person, as a player. For the Kansas City fans out there that don’t think maybe I’m the right fit or whatever it may be, I’m out to prove them wrong.”

Royals manager Ned Yost said he will not mention the play to Duda.

“It’s not an elephant in the room,” Yost said. “It’s a one-time play. If we make the play again, he might have thrown Hos out by 10 feet. You don’t know. It’s just something that happened.”

Hosmer became a free agent and agreed to a $144 million, eight-year contract with San Diego. Before adding Duda, the Royals’ candidates included a trio of players with no first-base experience in the major leagues: Hunter Dozier, Frank Schwindel and Ryan O’Hearn.

“I was glad we could get Duda because I felt like it that was a spot that was going to be a pretty big hole was first base,” Yost said. “We looked around and I think we are pretty well covered for the most part. It never hurts if something falls into your lap or becomes available that can help us.”

The 32-year-old Duda hit .217 with 30 homers and 64 RBIs last year for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay, which acquired him on July 27. He had 58 extra-base hits and a .496 slugging percentage.

Drafted by the Mets in 2007, Duda has a .242 average with 138 homers and 405 RBIs in eight major league seasons. He is a left-handed hitter, which was attractive to the Royals.

“We’re so dominant right-handed we needed to try to find ways to incorporate more left-handed swings in our lineup,” Yost said.

Duda would earn a $100,000 bonuses for 300 plate appearances and each additional 25 through 600, but even if he reaches all levels he would fall short of his $7.25 million salary last year. He likely will appear in a spring training game later this week.

Due to the slow free agent market, he arrived in camp two weeks after many teammates.

“Not an ideal situation,” Duda said. “Hopefully, I can get ready in the next month or so and have a productive season. We have a nice group of veterans, young talent, some great arms. It’s going to be fun. We’re going to surprise some people. I’ve been in this situation before. It’s nothing new.”

Kansas City also acquired 19-year-old minor league right-handed pitcher Domingo Pena from the Texas Rangers for $250,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation.

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