Banking on a Rebound

Just a week after the Arizona Diamondbacks completed a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates that landed them left-handed starter Zach Duke, the team announced they had reached an agreement with the pitcher on a one-year deal with a club option for 2012.

It was widely assumed that if the Diamondbacks could not come to some sort of agreement on a contract before the deadline for tendering contracts to players that Duke would be cut loose.

The goal was to try and sign Duke to a salary lower than what he may earn if his case went before an arbitration panel. Last season Duke made $4.3 million going 8-15 with an ERA of 5.72 so obviously Arizona was hoping he could be signed at a lower amount for one year.

As of Wednesday it did not look as though the two sides would be able to agree on a contract number. Both sides had a change of heart and by this afternoon they were able to reach an agreement.
The new contract pays Duke $3.5 million for the 2011 season and gives the Diamondbacks a $5.5 million option for 2012. If the Diamondbacks decline that option it comes with a buyout of $750,000.

This is a classic Kevin Towers deal where he looks for pitchers who have had a down year that other teams perhaps have given-up on. While the win-loss record last season was dismal as was his ERA, he does have a history of eating innings.

In the previous five years Duke has thrown 215 innings in 2006, 107 in 2007, 185 in 2008, 213 in 2009 and 159 in 2010. That may be advantageous to the Diamondbacks given their young pitching staff of Ian Kennedy, Barry Enright, and Daniel Hudson.

If Duke is slotted as the number four starter as is expected, it may pay dividends the second half of the season to have a fourth starter who can throw 200 innings. Given the NL West make-up, having two left-handers in the rotation will also give manager Kirk Gibson more options.

Despite being only 27 years old, Duke will be counted on for his veteran experience when compared to the other starters in the Diamondbacks rotation. Hopefully Duke will be able to rebound from a subpar season statistically under the tutelage of new Diamondbacks pitching coach Charles Nagy.


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