According to Ken Rosenthal, Jim Bowden and the Washington Nationals are attempting to trade for Devil Rays center fielder Elijah Dukes. Rosenthal notes that Bowden has before extended opportunities with players with off-the-field problems, most recently Dmitri Young.
Dukes, who will turn 23 later this month, has an interesting line on the season. He’s at .199/.321/.409 with ten home runs and thirty walks in 209 plate appearances. It’s an odd way to arrive at a .730 OPS, but ultimately puts him pretty close to the average AL center fielder (.260/.332/.408). Obviously once Dukes’ batting average catches up – and I think it will – his OBP will be quite solid.
Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system shows comparables for Dukes like Rondell White, Jack Clark, Matt Holliday, Ellis Valentine, Vernon Wells, and Michael Cuddyer. Current Nationals Alex Escobar, Austin Kearns, Ryan Langerhans, and Mike Restovich all make his top twenty as well. I find that strange…maybe Bowden is collecting a certain type of player.
Dukes of course carries ridiculous character and anger management issues as baggage. The theory is that moving him away from Tampa Bay could calm him down. In the past, the Pirates and Marlins have expressed interest in Dukes.