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Nats re-sign left-hander Duke

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Nats re-sign left-hander Duke

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals have re-signed left-hander Zach Duke to a one-year, major-league contract, addressing one of their needs for an affordable long reliever.

The deal has not been announced yet, but a club source confirmed the signing.

Duke returns after a solid September cameo in Washington in which he posted a 1.32 ERA over eight appearances. He spent the majority of the season as a starter at Class AAA Syracuse, going 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA.

The 29-year-old, an All-Star with the Pirates in 2009, figures to serve as the long man in the Nationals' bullpen, taking over the role held by Tom Gorzelanny this season. Gorzelanny performed well in the role -- he boasted a 2.88 ERA in 45 games -- but the Nationals elected not to tender him a contract last week, worried his salary would jump to as high as $4 million through arbitration.

Terms on Duke's contract aren't yet known, but he'll make significantly less than Gorzelanny.

The Nationals are still looking for at least one more left-handed reliever after both Sean Burnett and Michael Gonzalez declared for free agency. They could re-sign either veteran, though the market for Burnett appears deep, with as many as eight clubs interested in his services.

Burnett could command a three-year contract similar to the one the Giants recently gave left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.

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Washington Nationals celebrate NL East title

Washington Nationals celebrate NL East title

Two things had to happen for the Nationals to clinch the NL East title Saturday night. They had to beat the Pirates, and the Mets had to lose to the Phillies.

Both of those things happened, and the Nats wasted no time getting the celebration going. 

And they kept it going. 

Bryce Harper sported a Katie Ledecky swim cap to protect his flow from the flying liquid.

Then the team left the clubhouse, apparently to go roam Pittsburgh and find some Nats fans to celebrate with.

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Bryce Harper celebrates courtesy of Katie Ledecky in post-game celebration

Bryce Harper celebrates courtesy of Katie Ledecky in post-game celebration

Bryce Harper always talks about loving Washington, D.C. and after winning another NL East crown, he honored one of the local legends from the Rio games.

Katie Ledecky was one of the stars of the Olympics and the Bethesda resident appears to have given Harper a swimcap to celebrate clinching the NL East.

She reached out to Harper on twitter and appreciated the MVP sporting the swim cap.