PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young were designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend.

The Pirates chose to create roster space for other players in advance of the Rule 5 draft next month.

Pittsburgh made a similar move last winter with closer Matt Capps, who went on to be one of the majors’ top relievers for Washington and Minnesota.

By not tendering them contracts, the Pirates are giving up on Duke, their former staff ace, and LaRoche, their former starting third baseman who was considered a key to the Jason Bay trade two years ago.

All three were arbitration-eligible.

The moves with Duke and LaRoche weren’t a surprise, as it was evident late in the season that neither fit in the Pirates’ long-term plans. The team estimated it would cost at least $6 million to re-sign Duke for 2011.

The Pirates added right-handers Michael Crotta, Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, Tony Watson and left-hander Daniel Moskos to their 40-man roster.

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