Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell hinted in a chat with readers last week that the Washington Nationals may have signed veteran left-hander Zach Duke to a new deal after he signed with the Nats as a free agent last March and impressed at Triple-A and in the majors late last season. "I wouldn't be surprised to see the Nats resign lefty Zach Duke who was 15-5 3.51 ERA at Syracuse last year, then 1.32 in 12 IP for Nats in September," Mr. Boswell wrote, "He may even be resigned already. I heard a 'maybe' on that." The 29-year-old, 8-year veteran was (15-5) in 26 starts and 164.1 IP with the Nats' top affiliate, walking 39 (2.14 BB/9) and striking out 91 (4.98 K/9).
Duke had a 1.32 ERA, a 2.51 FIP, four walks (2.63 BB/9) and 10 Ks (6.59 K/9) in 13.2 IP after he was called up to the majors in September/October. According to a report on Twitter by Amanda Comak (@acomak) this afternoon, several sources are now confirming what the WaPost's Mr. Boswell heard might be true:
The #nats have signed LHP Zach Duke to a major league deal, according multiple sources.— Amanda Comak (@acomak) December 3, 2012
Duke could potentially fill the long relief role in the Nationals' bullpen if they don't bring Tom Gorzelanny back. The Nationals non-tendered the left-hander this past weekend, with Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore explaining that Gorzelanny (who made $3M last season) was likely due more in arbitration (possibly $4M) than the Nationals were willing to pay. "'For the amount of money we would have to pay for the role we’re asking him to do, we didn’t think that made sense to us,' Rizzo said.'" Duke, an '01 20th Round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates has made 189 appearances at the major league level in his career, 168 of them as a starter.
The veteran left-hander is now the only lefty on the Nationals' roster with experience in the majors, though the Nats have talked recently about still being interested in bring both Gorzelanny and free agent reliever Sean Burnett back in 2013.