Tuesday's roundup: White Sox add Duke; Mets move fences
Chicago — The White Sox boosted their bullpen Tuesday, reaching agreement with left-hander Zach Duke on a $15 million, three-year contract.
The 31-year-old Duke will get $4.5 million next season, $5 million in 2016 and $5.5 million in 2017.
Duke flourished in his lone season with the Brewers, going 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in a career-high 74 appearances. He joins a bullpen that ranked 28th in the majors with a 4.38 ERA and a team that went 73-89 last season after losing 99 the previous year. But with Chris Sale leading the starting rotation and AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu in the middle of the lineup, the White Sox believe they can turn things around sooner than later.
"If you get the right group of guys together that believe and don't care what people outside the door say, then special things can happen," Duke said. "I feel like I can impart some knowledge and maybe some wisdom on some of the younger guys and help them realize the ability is there because there are quality young players within that clubhouse."
General manager Rick Hahn called Duke "one of the most desirable relievers out on the market" and said the White Sox targeted him early on. He said pitching coach Don Cooper had lunch with the pitcher a while ago and came away impressed.
Hahn also said acquiring Duke is just a start, that the White Sox still hope to add to their bullpen and acquire a left-handed hitter for the middle of the order.
"We're real pleased with (the move)," Hahn said. "We're on to the next one now. It's an important get, one we're all very happy about, but we're not deluding ourselves that we're by any means finished addressing our needs both in the bullpen and elsewhere."
Duke is 55-77 with a 4.46 ERA over 10 seasons with Pittsburgh (2005-10), Arizona (2011), Washington (2012-13), Cincinnati (2013) and the Brewers (2014). He is 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 120 relief appearances.
He was Pittsburgh's opening day starter in 2007 and 2010 and made the NL All-Star team in 2009.
Mets moving fences
Mired in a streak of six straight losing seasons and hoping to boost offense, the Mets are moving in their fences at Citi Field for the second time.
The Mets unveiled the new dimensions Tuesday, which bring in the fences 3-to-11 feet in front of the bullpens in right field. Right-center field will be 380 feet, down from 390 the past three years and 415 in the ballpark's first three seasons.
"Trying to take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation, so it's not something that's discussed in the clubhouse, it's not discussed in the media, it's not something our fans have to talk about," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We want the ballpark to be fair, but a few more home runs for us wouldn't be a bad thing, and a little more scoring is I think something most fans enjoy — not all, not baseball purists by any means, but there aren't a lot of baseball purists left."
Speaking in front of the new fence on a blustery afternoon with the temperature below freezing, Alderson said the team's research projected there would have been 27 additional home runs this year under the new dimensions. The Mets would have hit 17, including nine by Curtis Granderson and four by Lucas Duda.
The news has to be welcome to outfielder Michael Cuddyer, just signed to a two-year, $21-million deal.
Hudson eyeing retirement
Giants pitcher Tim Hudson says next season probably will be his last.
The 39-year-old right-hander finally reached and won the World Series in his 16th major-league season. He said Tuesday he plans to fulfill his $23 million, two-year contract with the Giants then possibly call it a career.
Speaking at Auburn, where he played college baseball, Hudson said he's "pretty sure that's going to be it." He started Game 7 of the World Series for the Giants after his 2013 season in Atlanta was cut short by an ankle injury.
He's hosting a charity event at Auburn this weekend and already has started training for the spring Monday. Hudson says the World Series left a short offseason but after going so long without making it, he's hardly complaining.
Around the horn
The Indians signed free agent pitchers Shaun Marcum and Dustin Molleken to minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to training camp.
... The Rangers hired Tony Beasley as their third-base coach to complete the staff for new manager Jeff Banister.