Nats bring back left-handed reliever Duke
Veteran southpaw Bray inks Minor League deal with organization that drafted him
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals added two left-handed relievers on Monday, re-signing Zach Duke to a Major League contract, the team announced, and giving Bill Bray a Minor League deal, MLB.com has learned.
Entering the Winter Meetings, Washington didn't have one lefty reliever, as Duke, Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny had all become free agents.
Duke was a September callup this past season and was productive, allowing two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. Duke most likely will be a long reliever, replacing Gorzelanny.
"We are going to keep him stretched out in Spring Training and see where we are at with the fifth starter spot," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He will give us some depth, a guy who has started in the past. I think the same could be said for Christian Garcia. Duke will be in the mix for a fifth starting job or at least starting depth. If not, he will [be the long reliever manager] Davey [Johnson] likes in the bullpen."
Duke is best known as a starter with the Pirates. His best season was 2005, his rookie year, when he went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA.
This will be Bray's second stint with the Nationals organization. He was the Expos' first-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft before being traded to the Reds in July 2006 as part of an eight-player trade that sent outfielder Austin Kearns to the Nats.
This past season, Bray missed a lot of time due to injuries. The best season of his career came in 2011, when he went 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.