DEC. 29: Duke will receive $2.15MM, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Per Berardino, via Twitter, Duke can add $200K bonuses for making his 40th and 50th appearances, $300K at #55 and #60, and another $500K if he takes the ball 65 times.
DEC. 26, 9:05pm: Duke’s guarantee is “just over” $2MM and he can earn up to $1.5MM more via incentives, Berardino tweets.
5:30pm: The Twins have officially announced Duke’s one-year contract.
10:10am: 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that Duke’s contract is a Major League deal that is expected to be worth between $1.5MM and $2MM. Minnesota’s 40-man roster is full with the addition of Duke.
DEC. 25: The Twins have agreed to a deal with veteran lefty Zach Duke, as KFAN’s Paul Lambert first tweeted. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press confirms on Twitter, adding that the deal is still pending a physical. Terms of the arrangement aren’t yet known. Duke is a client of ISE Baseball.
Duke, 34, is coming off of a limited 2017 campaign. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in mid-October of 2016, he managed to bounce back in time to make 27 appearances for the Cardinals.
As might have been expected, given his rapid return, Duke showed some rust. He recorded only 5.9 K/9 and allowed far more hard contact (37.0%) than usual while posting a 3.93 ERA over 18 1/3 frames. On the other hand, the southpaw allowed only a .197/.284/.364 batting line to opposing hitters (with minimal platoon splits) and generated rates of swinging strikes (10.9%) and groundballs (50.4%) that were not out of line with the figures he has maintained in recent seasons.
[Related: Updated Minnesota Twins depth chart]
For Minnesota, the move gives the team a potentially solid second lefty to pair with Taylor Rogers at what will likely turn out to be a marginal commitment. If Duke can rebound to anything like the form he showed over the prior three seasons — over which he posted a 2.74 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 over 180 1/3 innings — then he’ll surely represent a true bargain.
The Twins have already added Fernando Rodney to bolster a questionable late-inning unit. Perhaps, then, the organization will turn its focus to addressing other needs, though surely additional bullpen moves will at least be considered. The 2017 unit, after all, rated 22nd among all MLB teams by measure of both fWAR and ERA.