Sports Outside the Beltway

Duchscherer Avoids Arbitration

The A’s and Justin Duchscherer came to an agreement on terms today, avoiding arbitration.

Duke, who made $344,500 in 2006, asked for $1.45 million and was offered $925,000. They didn’t immediately release the numbers, but I’d have to guess that the one year deal is worth somewhere around $1.3 million. Kirk Saarloos asked for nearly the same amount, was offered $925,000, and got a $1.2 million deal. No offense to Saarloos, but Duchscherer is certainly worth more.

[UPDATE: The actual figure is $1,187,500, which is lower than I expected]

The A’s have never liked to go to arbitration with players, with the last case that actually went before an arbiter being the Juan Cruz disaster. Cruz, who had a reputation of having a “major league arm, minor league head”, lost his arbitration case. There was speculation that the process left him with less confidence in himself, which contributed to his decline. Of course, it’s also possible that he just couldn’t find the strikezone with a GPS and a sherpa holding his hand.

Signing Duke, the A’s lone All-Star representative in 2005, was one of the more important goals of the offseason for the A’s. He’s been very reliable and produced great results since moving from the rotation to the bullpen. A large part of his success has come after he developed and refined his cutter. He went from a soft-tossing starter with three pitches to a soft-tossing reliever who makes batters look awful with a huge curveball and diving cutter.

I’ll always remember his performance I witnessed in spring training last year, when Duchscherer fanned seven batters in a row, most on his curve. Speaking of which, this may be heresy for an A’s fan, but I’d wager that Duchscherer has every bit as good a curveball as Barry Zito. Not only that, Duchscherer seems to know how to control his, walking only 28 batters in the last two years, over 141 1/3 innings pitched.

This leaves Bobby Kielty as the lone Athletic waiting to either go to arbitration or sign a one year deal. I’d guess that the A’s sign him to a deal worth around $2.2 million, a raise from the $1.85 he made last year. Kielty will likely see most of his time in a platoon, though, possibly with Rule V draft pick Ryan Goleski.

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