Elijah Dukes and Carl Everett are independent ball teammates

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Elijah Dukes is a 26-year-old former top prospect with good speed, experience in all three outfield spots, and a .771 OPS in 240 career games, but he’s apparently such a horrible human being that no MLB team is willing to even sign him to a minor-league contract and stash him at Triple-A.
Dukes has been out of work since the Nationals surprisingly released him during spring training and yesterday he signed with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League.
It’s often said in sports that being talented trumps being a bad guy and that’s definitely true for star-caliber players, but Dukes is providing an example of how that isn’t always the case for merely good players. At the very least he’d be a solid, cheap fourth outfielder and could certainly start for plenty of teams, but when the upside is “good regular” rather than “perennial All-Star” the 30 general managers have seemingly decided it’s not worth the hassle. And it’s tough to blame them.
Former big leaguers Willie Banks, Daryle Ward, Edgardo Alfonzo, Scott Spiezio, Brian Barton, and Vince Perkins are also listed on the Newark roster, but here’s the really amazing part: Dukes is now teammates with Carl Everett. I suspect that within the first week they’ll either become inseparable lifelong friends or kill each other following an argument about dinosaurs.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.