Sports Outside the Beltway

Washington Nationals release OF Elijah Dukes

One would think the worst team in MLB would be in need of this player. From AP-

Outfielder Elijah Dukes has been released by the Washington Nationals, a sudden move with about two weeks left in spring training.

The Nationals announced the transaction with a terse, two-sentence news release Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Dukes had been expected to be Washington’s starting right fielder.

He hit .242 with 31 homers and 123 RBIs in three seasons with Tampa Bay and Washington. He was limited to 188 games with the Nationals the past two seasons because of injuries.

Why was Dukes released? Two people in the Washington Nationals dysfunctional family organization have given conflicting statements.

Manager Jim Riggleman said it was a strictly baseball decision and not related to any off-the-field problems. “We like some of our other options in right field, really,” Riggleman said. “Elijah was great.”

General manager Mike Rizzo called the release “a performance-based decision” but also implied Dukes’s place in the clubhouse adversely affected the Nationals. Rizzo said the Nationals “will be a more cohesive, united group” without Dukes.

“The clubhouse will be more united,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have a better feel around the ballclub. We’ll gain just by that alone.”

The Nationals discussed the possibility of parting ways with Dukes this winter, Rizzo said. The Nationals “made several inquiries to many” teams, Rizzo said. “We found there was no interest in a trade for Elijah.” The Nationals could have also optioned Dukes to the minor leagues, but they felt he had peaked in his development, Rizzo said.

I tend to believe Rizzo. Dukes has alot of personal problems that detract from him as a ball player. Why would the organization release him out right without trying to make a trade? When healthy, Dukes is a fair to good starting outfielder and would be a excellent 4th outfielder.

I think something recent occurred with Dukes that is not known at present or he was causing trouble in the clubhouse. That is why Washington cut him loose.

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