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The Nationals release Elijah Dukes

Mar 17, 2010, 11:07 AM EDT

11:07:  A couple of conflicting reports are emerging regarding Dukes. A few minutes ago former Nats’ GM and current XM radio host Jim Bowden said “After latest incident, credit Nats for making right decision.” No mention of what the “incident” was. Bowden can be a tremendous tool at times, but he also still has some connections in the Nats’ front office who have passed him information on the sly in the past. (UPDATE: Jim Bowden has apparently now deleted all of his tweets, so perhaps it’s best not to listen to what he has to say about Dukes. Not that we ever should have been listening anyway). 

Meanwhile, MASN’s Ben Goessling is being told by Jim Riggleman and Nats’ officials that the Dukes release is “strictly a baseball decision” and that the team “feels they can get better production from combo of others.”  With respect to off-the-field issues, someone else tells Ben that “You can dig and dig all you want. There’s nothing.”

For Dukes’ sake you hope that Goessling is correct. For the Nats’ sake you hope Bowden is. Why? Because absent any off-the-field junk, Dukes had real trade value, and the Nats just gave him away for nothing.

10:14 A.M.: MASN’s Ben Goessling tweets that he was just told that the release does not have anything to do with off-the-field issues.  Which, while perhaps comforting for Dukes’ sake and for the sake of the innocent civilians of Viera, Florida, makes this move even more bizarre.  Why don’t you send him down? Why don’t you explore a trade?

The Nats’ official Twitter feed just announced that the team has released Elijah Dukes.  No reasons given yet. We’ll obviously update when we hear something.

Quick reaction:  Dukes is a pretty decent player, and despite his history, he’s more or less been a good citizen for a year or two.  He is cheap too. If the Nats wanted to get rid of him, why wouldn’t they try to trade him?  Or send him down to the minors? Why the unconditional release? There has to be something major behind all of this.

One hates to assume but, apart from a serious off-the-field issue, what possible reason would the Nats have for releasing him unconditionally? Doing so is a statement that he has no value, and the only thing I can think of that would transform Dukes from a moderately valuable commodity to zero value is an incident of some sort.

Also: does this open up a spot for Ian Desmond? Can he play right? Can Cristian Guzman?

  1. Matt - Mar 17, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    You released, dawg.

  2. Jonny5 - Mar 17, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    While he was good on the field, he is an azzhole off the field. I won’t be a bit suprised when we find out why he was released. I’m sure it’ll be bad. Bad enough for him to be dropped like a hot potato. He’s an idiot with no restraint. He knocked up a 17 year old foster child of a relative, then when she confronted him he threw a Gatorade bottle at her face. The dudes warped.

  3. Dug - Mar 17, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    PED’s, is there a positive test result about to be released?

  4. enough already - Mar 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Wow, that’s unbelievable. And I thought the behavior he exhibited at the park was bad enough. It’s hard to believe that a team would not want to get as much as they could for a player. But if the Nats cut ties with him simply because they had enough of his over all jerkery, fair play to them and good riddance to him.

  5. Jonny5 - Mar 17, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    And he was arrested 3 x for battery 1 x for assault. He fathered 5 children by 4 women in 3 years. Got a restraining order against him for threatening to kill his wife. Could it get worse?

  6. Motherscratcher - Mar 17, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    If there wasn’t another off-the-field incident I can think of only one other explanation.
    Tom Cruise called the Nat’s front office and told them he just got a red ball with “Elijah Dukes” written on it.

  7. RobRob - Mar 17, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    Isn’t he still eligible for arbitration? If so, the Nats can’t release him for anything but a “baseball” decision without triggering an immediate grievance from the MLBPA.

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