Last off season, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin -- like most GMs -- picked up a few scrap pieces to bring into spring training. Older minor league guys, depth, former major leaguers looking for a chance to prove they still can play. One of those players, left-handed pitcher Zach Duke, worked out extremely well for Milwaukee.
However, Duke's tenure in Milwaukee will end after just one excellent season. According to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago, Duke has agreed to a deal with the Chicago White Sox that will span multiple seasons.
Duke, 31, made 74 appearances for the Brewers in 2014, notching a 2.45 ERA, a 2.14 FIP and striking out 74 batters in 58.2 innings while walking just 17. There was a case to be made that he deserved to be all All Star, but he was passed over in favor of other relievers having great seasons of their own.
The Brewers had already likely been seeking to improve on their current bullpen, and the official departure of Duke may hurt those efforts. There had been some hope that he might re-sign with Milwaukee, though his price tag apparently was too high for the team.
Trading for Jonathan Broxton in late-August helped alleviate the damage of losing Duke and, potentially, Francisco Rodriguez in free agency, but the Brewers are still dealing with question marks regarding the health of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson. If those two struggle to live up to the standards they have set, only Broxton and Will Smith will have guaranteed spots in the bullpen. Jeremy Jeffress and Brandon Kintzler will also assuredly start 2015 in the majors barring any major developments.
Smith gives the bullpen a left-handed presence, but the team clearly does not see him as solely a lefty specialist by any means. With that in mind, it's possible the Brewers will now focus some of their efforts on finding another strong left-hander for 2015.