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Zach Duke Rumors
- The Pirates‘ Andrew McCutchen is the best bargain in baseball, opines Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cook notes McCutchen is the 158th-highest-paid player this season and 77 players have richer contracts than the six-year, $51.5MM extension (plus a $14.75MM club option for 2018) he signed in March 2012. The 27-year-old is following up his 2013 MVP season with a slash of .313/.423/.527 with 11 home runs and a league-leading 52 walks.
- The Brewers are legitimate contenders, writes MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby, and their confidence was bolstered by the offseason free agent signing of Matt Garza. “When we signed Garza, I think that’s when we started to feel something could happen,” Jonathan Lucroy told Ringolsby. Added Ryan Braun, “It showed the front office and ownership felt we were a good team.“
- An under-the-radar free agent signing has also paid huge dividends for the Brewers, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Brewers inked Zach Duke inked to a minor league deal in January and the left-hander has been well worth the investment posting a 1.57 ERA, a K/BB ratio of 7.8 (39/5), and a 53% groundball rate.
- The Cardinals‘ priorities as the Trade Deadline approaches, according to the St. Louis Post-Disptach’s Joe Strauss, include finding an offensive upgrade at second base (or third base, if Matt Carpenter is moved to second), a bench bat, and determining whether Pat Neshek can be a reliable 8th inning option.
- Earlier today, the Cubs added Tsuyoshi Wada to their 40-man roster and promptly optioned him to Triple-A. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets Wada could slide into the Cubs’ rotation, if a starter is dealt between now and the Trade Deadline.
Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).
- Delmon Young receives a $100K bonus from the Orioles, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The Rockies have decided to pay righty Nick Masset a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization, rather than releasing him or guaranteeing him an active roster spot, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
- As posted already, Endy Chavez and Humberto Quintero of the Mariners have been released rather than receiving the roster bonus to be held in the minors.
- The Indians have announced that DH Jason Giambi will be placed on the DL retroactive to March 21, meaning that the team will need to add him to its 40-man roster.
- John McDonald has been added to the Angels' 40-man roster and will be the club's utility infielder on Opening Day, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). The club has already released its three other Article XX(B) free agents.
- The Mets have elected to pay pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K retention bonus rather than guaranteeing him an Opening Day roster spot or releasing him, the club announced on Twitter. Matsuzaka, who signed as an Article XX(B) free agent, will apparently compete with Jenrry Mejia for the fifth and final rotation slot right up until the start of the season.
- Zach Duke has been informed that he has made the Brewers, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Duke will be the third lefty (and, potentially, long man) in the pen.
- Earlier today we learned that Jason Kubel would make the Twins Opening Day roster.
Earlier, we learned that the Brewers are reportedly considering whether to offer young shortstop Jean Segura a contract extension, and if so on what terms. MLBTR's Steve Adams recently broke down the team's offseason moves. Here are more notes out of Milwaukee:
- In a fascinating interview, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio spoke with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about a host of topics, including the inside stories of his purchase of the club and the signings of Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza. Explaining that the club has gone away from its once "very rigid budgets" in favor of general fiscal responsibility while stretching the budget when it makes sense, Attanasio said that the Garza signing was a reflection of the organization's desire to add an impact pitcher at the MLB level. The ball got rolling during a conversation at Ryan Braun's wedding between the owner and agent Nez Balelo. Per Attanasio: "So the next morning, I called [GM] Doug [Melvin] and said, 'How about Matt Garza?' Doug's first question was, 'Isn't he too expensive?'"
- Attanasio explains that the Lohse signing came together quite differently; afterward, he says, agent Scott Boras remarked that he'd set a personal record in call volume to ownership to complete the deal. Attanasio said the complicated decision came down to his desire to "bring up the quality of the product we were giving our fan base," even if it was not going to change the team's destiny for 2013.
- In the case of Lohse, moreover, Attanasio saw a chance to take advantage of a reluctant market. He rightly echoed his GM in noting that the value of draft picks lies in the drafted players' trade value as well as their ultimate MLB production. But, he indicated, their value is not limitless: "What happened with Kyle, the new CBA had this rule about giving up a draft choice. And giving up a draft choice evolved in our sport from giving up a lottery ticket to giving up your first born." As I wrote in two recent pieces – contextualizing and assessing the qualifying offer system — organizational reluctance to give up picks, potentially even going beyond teams' internal valuations, could have a major impact on how a compensation free agent's market develops.
- Now that the club has put together a potentially solid rotation, and overseen the return of Ryan Braun, Attanasio says the club is looking to be a winner, tweets David Laurila of Fangraphs from the ongoing SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix. The club is prepared to be aggressive at the trade deadline rather than adhering to a budget, Attanasio indicated.
- Meanwhile, down at camp, southpaw Zach Duke is making a good impression as he looks to make the squad as a non-roster invitee, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He's doing a great job of letting us know that he's definitely a guy we should look at," said manager Ron Roenicke. "He's got better stuff than I thought, maybe because I saw him so much as a starter. Now that he's a reliever, maybe his stuff is different. I like what I see." Indeed, Duke has continued to work on honing his repertoire for a pen role. Of course, with Will Smith now clearly locked in as the top lefty in the pen after losing his chance at a rotation spot through the Garza signing, the well-travelled 30-year-old still faces an uphill battle to crack the Opening Day roster.
Duke, 30, struggled early last year with the Nationals, posting a 8.71 ERA in his first 20 2/3 innings. But the southpaw turned things around upon joining the Reds, allowing less than an earned run per nine during his 10 2/3 innings in Cincinnati. Since losing his job as an everyday starter after the 2010 season, Duke has bounced around the league as a middle reliever.
The Reds have signed Zach Duke to a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. According to the Triple-A International League transactions page, Duke was assigned to Triple-A Louisville, and catcher Konrad Schmidt was released to clear roster space.
The Nationals re-signed Duke to a Major League deal this past December, but the former Rookie of the Year candidate was ultimately designated for assignment and released after allowing 20 runs in 20 2/3 innings. Despite his left-handedness, the 30-year-old Duke has actually allowed a .386/.413/.477 line to opposing left-handers from 2012-13. He's walked just two of the 46 lefties he's faced though and hasn't allowed a home run.
The 28-year-old Schmidt spent his entire professional career with the D-backs prior to this season. He reached the Majors on two separate occasions but only saw 17 plate appearances. He has a career .271/.323/.409 batting line in 218 games at the Triple-A level.
Duke, 30, was designated for assignment last week after posting an 8.71 ERA in 20 2/3 frames for the Nationals this season. He was an asset for the team in the final month of 2012, allowing just two runs in 13 2/3 innings of work out of the bullpen in September. The former Rookie of the Year candidate has just a 4.84 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 990 2/3 innings since his tremendous 2005 debut campaign.
If Major League Baseball is really hoping to suspend the 20+ players involved in the Biogenesis scandal, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal thinks the league will need more evidence than just the word of clinic founder Tony Bosch. It will be too easy, Rosenthal argues, for the players' representatives to claim that Bosch lacks credibility and that he is only naming names to avoid possible criminal prosecution and getting himself sued by the league.
Here are some news items from around the sport…
- "To be honest with you, all those years I got to free agency, I never thought about going somewhere else," David Ortiz tells WEEI.com's Alex Speier. "I feel like I'm a big part of these ball clubs. I feel like what I was asking for wasn't anything they couldn't give me. You look into situations, and I never had the feeling that I was going to go somewhere else, to be honest with you." Ortiz is off to a big start this season and is making good on the two-year, $26MM deal he signed to remain with the Red Sox last offseason.
- Jesse Crain and Addison Reed both aren't worried about possibly becoming trade bait this summer if the White Sox decide to rebuild, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. Merkin notes that the veteran Crain is the likelier of the two to be moved, and I'd argue that Chicago would only move Reed if they received a knockout offer.
- Aledmys Diaz is playing with a Mexican League team this summer and during the winter, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports. The Cuban shortstop hopes to sign with a Major League team in February. Diaz drew attention from at least 10 teams last winter, though at least one team (the Twins) thought Diaz's asking price was "too high" and MLB was investigating whether Diaz was really 23 years old.
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington) that he expects both Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke to be claimed by other teams. The two relievers were both designated for assignment by the Nats today.
The Nationals designated lefty Zach Duke for assignment, according to a team press release. In a series of moves, the Nats also designated reliever Henry Rodriguez, reinstated Jayson Werth from the DL, placed Danny Espinosa on the DL, recalled Anthony Rendon, and selected the contract of Ian Krol.
Duke, 30, posted an 8.71 ERA, 4.8 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.87 HR/9, and 54.4% groundball rate in 20 2/3 innings this year. He faced more right-handed hitters than left, but those in those 30 plate appearances from lefties they hit .448/.467/.552 against him. The Nats had re-signed Duke to a Major League deal worth $700K in December.
Duke was drafted in the 20th round by the Pirates in '01, and finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting when he came up and posted a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts in '05. He also snagged an All-Star nod in '09.
Krol was acquired from the A's in March to complete the three-way trade that sent Mike Morse to Seattle, John Jaso to Oakland, and A.J. Cole to the Nats. The 22-year-old lefty was dominant in Double-A this year, with a 0.69 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and one home run allowed in 26 innings.
Duke spent most of the 2012 season with the Nats' Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, posting a 3.51 ERA in 26 starts for the Chiefs. When the 29-year-old got a chance to pitch out of the Nationals bullpen in the last month of the season, he was very effective, recording a 1.32 ERA in eight appearances.
The signing doesn't rule out additional pitching acquisitions for the Nationals, according to Comak, who says (via Twitter) that the club is still in the market for a fifth starter.
Duke, 28, posted a 4.93 ERA with 3.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 49.6% ground ball rate in 76 2/3 innings last year. The 2009 All-Star owns a 4.56 ERA with 4.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 49.0% ground ball rate in seven seasons with Arizona and Pittsburgh. SFX represents the Clifton, Texas native.