The Chicago White Sox have signed left-handed pitcher Zach Duke to a three-year, $15 million deal, they announced today. Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reported the signing first.
Duke, 31, has pitched in 10 big league seasons with five different clubs, finishing up the 2014 season with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was selected as a starter in the 20th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Pirates and worked his way quickly through the minor leagues. Since, he has been converted to a reliever. Duke has posted some up-and-down numbers out of the 'pen, but was strong in 2014.
"Very early on, we identified Zach as one of the best left-handed free agents available this offseason, so we are very pleased he agreed to join the White Sox," said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president and general manager in a press release. "He addresses an important need in our bullpen by giving Robin Ventura a veteran left-handed option late in games."
Duke went 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 2014. He pitched 58 2/3 innings last year, striking out 74 and walking just 17. Over his career, he has a 4.46 ERA and a 4.17 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) over 1,144 2/3 innings pitched. He has traditionally averaged about two strikeouts per every walk.
A three-year, $15 million deal appears to be a large investment for a lefty reliever that has not enjoyed a ton of success over his career. Regardless, the strikeout numbers were real good for Duke last season, perhaps indicating that he might just be a late bloomer. The White Sox bullpen is currently very young and inexperienced, so Duke will help add some veteran leadership as well.