As the hot stove heats up, the White Sox seem to be ready to make their first move of the offseason.
#WhiteSox will announce the signing of left-handed reliever Zach Duke later today.— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) November 18, 2014
Details of the deal haven't come out yet, but we'll update here when they do.
(UPDATE (12:32 p.m.): The White Sox announced the signing as a three-year, $15 million deal. He'll make $4.5 million in 2015, $5 million in 2016, and $5.5 million in 2017.)
Duke, 31, who started his career as a starter for the Pirates, struggled to stay in the majors until last season with the Brewers. Last year, he really broke out by lowering his arm slot and finding a LOOGY-type job, throwing 58⅔ inning over 73 games with a 2.45 ERA, 2.14 FIP, and 2.09 xFIP
The big change -- he turned into a ground-ball pitcher. Last season, he increased his ground ball rate to 57.7%. He also greatly improved his strikeouts per nine innings in the LOOGY role, putting up an impressive 11.35 K/9 rate, a massive increase over his career rate (5.02) to that point.
While he still occasionally uses his whole arsenal, he's primarily a sinker and curveball pitcher, mixing in a slider as well. His sinker comes in at about 90 mph these days. He has a cutter as well, so he'll fit in well in the Sox bullpen.
With this move, the Sox roster will be at 38. The deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster for them to be exempt from the Rule 5 draft is Thursday.