A former SF Giants third baseman found a home for 2021 after inking a minor-league pact with the Chicago Cubs.
Former SF Giants infielder and fan-favorite Matt Duffy will compete for a spot on the Cubs roster after signing a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the deal has a $1 million base salary with $500,00 in potential incentives. Given that Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant are firmly entrenched as the Cubs infield incumbents, Duffy will be going for a reserve role.
Duffy, originally drafted in the 18th round of the 2012 draft by the Giants, debuted in 2014 and contributed to the 2014 championship run. By 2015, he grabbed hold of the hot corner and put together an impressive rookie campaign. In 612 plate appearances, he slashed .295/.334/.428 (108 OPS+) with 12 home runs and 77 RBI while being worth 3.9 WAR.
He finished second behind Kris Bryant for the 2015 Rookie of the Year award. Furthermore, he quickly established himself as a fan favorite. Despite getting off to a rough start at the plate in 2016 with a .671 OPS in his first 70 games, Duffy still provided solid value with the glove.
However, his time in the Orange and Black was abruptly cut short. He was shipped to the Tampa Bay Rays along with infield prospect Lucius Fox and pitching prospect Michael Santos in exchange for lefty Matt Moore at the 2016 trade deadline.
Moore helped the Giants sneak into the playoffs down the stretch in 2016 and even authored an impressive start against the Cubs in the National League Division Series where he yielded just one run in eight innings. Regardless, Moore’s time with the Giants was not viewed favorably as he badly battled command issues and his presence was undoubtedly tied with the raw feelings that remained from trading Duffy.
Nevertheless, Duffy struggled to stay healthy in the ensuing years. He missed the entire 2017 season, but rebounded with a solid 104 OPS+ in 560 plate appearances in 2018, before appearing in just 46 games in 2019. In the following offseason, the Rays designated him for assignment with the hopes of receiving compensation if a team placed a claim. That did not happen, and he entered free agency shortly thereafter.
The right-handed bat caught on with the Texas Rangers to start the 2020 season, but he did not make the club, so he signed with the New York Yankees to serve as a potential depth option and to work out at their alternate training site. The Yankees never did need to call on Duffy, so he did not register an official at-bat in 2020.
The 29-year-old found himself in familiar territory after entering free agency for the second straight offseason this winter. That said, he now has a home in Chicago and could conceivably compete for a roster spot with a strong showing in Spring Training. Given his experience all around the diamond, the Giants fan favorite is in a good position to return to the majors next season.