Cincinnati Reds reportedly agree to deal with reliever Zach Duke

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 30: Zach Duke #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the seventh inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 30, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies beat the Reds 9-6. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 30: Zach Duke #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the seventh inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 30, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies beat the Reds 9-6. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Though not yet finalized, it appears the Cincinnati Reds have agreed to a deal with left-handed relief pitcher Zach Duke.

Rather than a trade for their next offseason move, the Cincinnati Reds appear to have delved into the free agent market. The team has reported agreed to a deal with left-handed reliever Zach Duke who played for the Reds during the 2013 season. Duke will likely be utilized as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.

Though nothing is official, Jon Heyman of MLB Network is reporting that Duke and the Reds have come to an agreement. What the length of the deal is, likely just one year, and what the numbers look like are unclear, but Duke will be another solid piece in an already stacked bullpen.

The Cincinnati Reds bullpen was, perhaps, their biggest strength in 2018. With Jared Hughes and David Hernández setting the table in late innings for Reds’ closer Raisel Iglesias to slam the door in the ninth, the back end of Cincinnati’s bullpen is pretty solid.

Throw in Michael Lorenzen‘s ability to pitch multiple innings, along with Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, and Cody Reed, and the Reds have, on paper, a very solid mix of relief pitchers. Players like Wandy Peralta, Matt Wisler, Lucas Sims, and Brandon Finnegan will, no doubt, get an opportunity to prove they deserve consideration as well.

Duke played for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013. In fact, the 35-year-old has played for every team in the National League Central with the exception of the Chicago Cubs. During his 14 game stretch with the club back back in 2013, Duke went 10.2 innings with an ERA of 0.84 and a WHIP of 0.938.

Last year was a bit of a different story, as Zach Duke struggled to maintain control of his pitches with a walk rate of 3.6 per 9 innings. Duke went 5-5 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, and a 3.01 FIP. Duke pitched in 72 games and struck out 51 batters through 52 innings pitched. His ground ball rate was an impressive 59.4%, something that will play well at Great American Ball Park.

Duke will likely be counted on to get key outs against left-handed batters. With the like of Christian Yelich, Matt Carpenter, and Anthony Rizzo in the NL Central, having a reliable reliever that can get outs versus power-hitting lefties is a valuable tool.

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The Cincinnati Reds have made a concerted effort to improve the pitching staff this offseason. The  team has already acquired starters Sonny Gray, Alex Wood, and Tanner Roark via trades, and the Reds still may not be done adding pieces to a team that, at the very least, looks to be ready to compete as they head down to Goodyear, Arizona for Spring Training.