MINNEAPOLIS -- Zach Duke made one final trip around the White Sox clubhouse at Target Field Sunday morning, talking with teammates and coaches and saying his final goodbyes before moving on to the Cardinals.
The left-handed reliever was sent to St. Louis in exchange for outfielder Charlie Tilson, who not only is a local kid from Wilmette, Ill., and New Trier High School, but moved to No. 5 among White Sox prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Duke, 33, was not surprised by the move when factoring in the modified rebuild direction expected to be taken by the White Sox.
"Obviously you read some things about where the team is trying to head," Duke said. "I figured I might have some appeal to somebody out there. This could be a possibility.
"It turns out it's a great situation for me and my family. It's about the closest team to our home base in Nashville. And they are a great organization. The Cardinals are top notch all the way. This will be a very good thing."
With his 53 appearances, Duke stands tied for the Major League lead. He posted a 2-0 record with a 2.63 ERA, including one save, 20 holds and 42 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings in '16. He was pitching in the second year of a three-year, $15 million deal.
Tilson, 23, is hitting .282 with 16 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 34 RBIs, 53 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and a .345 on-base percentage over 100 games with Triple-A Memphis this season. His eight triples are tied for the third-most in the Pacific Coast League. Tilson is hitting .380 against left-handers in 2016 and could be part of the White Sox in the not-too-distant future.
"Charlie is a left-handed-hitting outfielder whose speed and defensive ability enable him to do a number of things well to help his team win ballgames," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn in the team's press release announcing the move. "We have liked him as a player since the Cardinals selected him out of New Trier in the second round in 2011."
This Duke deal moves Dan Jennings into the role of primary late-inning left-hander for the White Sox, but trading the veteran really has little to do with the team's current bullpen alignment. The White Sox are trying to build for the future and break free from an extended period mired in mediocrity, meaning they have to subtract a highly thought of player such as Duke to start.
"I love those guys in there," Duke said. "You spend a lot of time around each other, they become like brothers to you."
"To see a guy like that go out the door, it's tough on everyone," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Don't know necessarily what it all means beyond that, but we lost a good one today."
"Zach's definitely a great baseball player and a great clubhouse member. He's been a lot of fun to have around," White Sox closer David Robertson said. "We're going to miss him, but that's part of baseball. He's moving on to a good place, and I wish him all the best."