What is the Nats No. 1 priority at the winter meetings?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals have re-signed left-hander Zach Duke to a one-year, major-league contract, addressing one of their needs for an affordable long reliever.
The deal has not been announced yet, but a club source confirmed the signing.
Duke returns after a solid September cameo in Washington in which he posted a 1.32 ERA over eight appearances. He spent the majority of the season as a starter at Class AAA Syracuse, going 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA.
The 29-year-old, an All-Star with the Pirates in 2009, figures to serve as the long man in the Nationals' bullpen, taking over the role held by Tom Gorzelanny this season. Gorzelanny performed well in the role -- he boasted a 2.88 ERA in 45 games -- but the Nationals elected not to tender him a contract last week, worried his salary would jump to as high as $4 million through arbitration.
Terms on Duke's contract aren't yet known, but he'll make significantly less than Gorzelanny.
The Nationals are still looking for at least one more left-handed reliever after both Sean Burnett and Michael Gonzalez declared for free agency. They could re-sign either veteran, though the market for Burnett appears deep, with as many as eight clubs interested in his services.
Burnett could command a three-year contract similar to the one the Giants recently gave left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.