It was just announced that the Nationals have unconditionally released OF Elijah Dukes. If you’re unsure as to what “unconditionally” means, here’s the gist — the Nats couldn’t find a trade partner for Dukes and he can go to whatever team wants him should he want to sign with the club when approached.
Dukes has been an outfielder for the Nationals since 2008.
The general consensus in the clubhouse is shock. Updates after the page break.
Update 10:55 a.m. – (via WaPo’s Adam Kilgore) Riggleman said, “[…]it was a strictly baseball decision. We like some of our other options in right field, really.”
Update 11:03 a.m. – (via Former Washington Times Nats Beat Writer & Current Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman’s Twitter) “Riggleman says #Nats could go several ways in RF, including Willie Harris, Justin Maxwell and Mike Morse.”
Update 11:51 a.m. – (via MASN.com Nats Writer Ben Goessling) “Rizzo said the #Nats made many attempts to trade Dukes, but could not find an interested team.” (via Kilgore) “Dukes had an option, Rizzo said.”‘We felt that he’s a major league player. We didn’t feel it would help his development by sending him down.”
Update 12:10 p.m. – (via Kilgore/Nats Journal) Talks of parting with Dukes started over the Winter, Rizzo told WaPo. The Nationals “made several inquiries to many” teams, he said. “We found there was no interest in a trade for Elijah.” Rizzo felt that optioning Dukes to the minors was not an option seeing as “he had peaked in his development” already.
Update 2:47 p.m. – (Via Kilgore’s Twitter) “One note about timing re Dukes: Today is the cutoff for teams to owe players 30 days’ pay as opposed to a full season’s salary.”