Many are predicting that today begins the final 4 days of Adam Dunn in a Washington Nationals uniform. I am not convinced, because no one seems to have any insider information on an actual deal in the works. But nonetheless, it's still possible. Adam Dunn's value is high, and he wants a lot. Should the Nats trade Dunn? Let's explore that for a minute:
Dunn's 2 years in Washington have been among the best of his career. His career average is .251. In 2009, he hit .267, the highest of his career. This season, he's even higher at .278. He's still on pace to hit around 40 home runs once again. His defense at 1st base is much improved. He's made a few extremely impressive defensive stops.
On the other end, Dunn is already 30 and will be 31 in November. He wants at least a 3 year extension and would prefer 4 years. With a 4 year contract, Dunn would be under contract until he's 35 years old. Not generally the prime of a power hitter's career. He's been a passable fielder, although not a great one. There are other guys currently in the organization that could probably replace the defense. But is there anyone that can replace the massive void in the lineup that would result in losing Adam Dunn?
- Michael Morse: Obviously Morse is the guy most likely to replace Dunn at 1st. Morse is listed at 6'5", only an inch shorter than Dunn. The infield has grown accustomed to having a big target over at 1st, and Morse fits the bill. You're trading a left handed power bat for an unproven right handed bat, and Morse is still only 2 years younger than Dunn. Still, there's no arguing, especially among Nationals fans, that Morse shouldn't have an opportunity to play. This could be his best shot to prove himself. He is batting .345 in 2010, after all.
- Adam Kennedy: Kennedy has gotten plenty of opportunities at 1st base coming in for Adam Dunn as a "defensive replacement" in late innings. Kennedy is almost half a foot shorter than Dunn. He's not a power bat, although he would keep a left handed bat in the lineup. Not to mention, Dunn's fielding % at 1st base: .994. Kennedy's at 1st base: .986.
- Chris Marrero: He's worth bringing up. He's a Jim Bowden signing that was another "(insert position here) Of The Future" player. In this case, it was 1st base. In his 5th season in the Nationals farm system, Marrero has had his first full season in Double A Harrisburg. So far in AA, Marrero is impressing. In 2010, he's hitting .291 with a .347 on base percentage and has hit 13 home runs. He has a .985 fielding percentage at 1st this season with 13 errors. Maybe this numbers improvement has given Rizzo & Co. some hope and think that a guy like Morse could hold 1st base until Marrero is ready. Weirder things have happened, and a guy can dream...
I was going to spend time exploring "are you kidding me?" guys like Alberto Gonzalez, but I figured Adam Kennedy was enough of a joke for one day, so I'll move along. So all of this begs the question, should the Nationals trade Adam Dunn? Basically, the team should offer Dunn a 3-year contract. He probably won't accept 2 years and 4 years is too long for a guy his age. Unless the Nats think they can transform the pitching rotation or get a few game changers with the Dunn trade, it is not a worthwhile transaction. If you can't re-sign Dunn, you definitely can't afford to go out and get a Prince Fielder or someone in the off-season.
The fact of the matter is, if the Nationals legitimately plan to compete in the NL East any time soon, they need to re-sign Adam Dunn. As always, I'd love to read your comments and thoughts, whether you think I'm right or ridiculously far off base.