Dunn has the 2nd most home runs in baseball now with 38, 4 behind the NL leader Albert Pujols. So the wave of "Sign Adam Dunn" has swelled across NatsTown to a fever pitch. Maybe for good reason. Dunn has hit a ton of homers, has driven in 103 RBI and counting, has a .361 on-base %, and an outstanding .547 slugging %.
On the flip side, the only person in baseball with more strikeouts than Dunn (191) is Mark Reynolds (206). While his defensive errors are down, and he has a .990 fielding %, that doesn't account for the balls that trickle by him seemingly every week.
People always say that Adam Dunn is "going to hit around 40 home runs every year," and they're probably right. For the next year or two. But Adam Dunn will be 31 years old on Opening Day 2011. By all accounts, he's demanding a contract somewhere around 4 years and $60 million. By the time his contract is up, Dunn will be 35 years old, which is not really a prime age for a power hitter.
With Dunn's relatively low batting average and incredibly high strikeout rate, unless he can blast 40 home runs, he is simply not helping his team. This year, he's been a crucial aspect of the Nationals team, both in stats and intangible clubhouse persona. Part of me worries that the Nats could have "Alfonso Soriano Syndrome" with Dunn if they sign him to a huge contract as he passes his prime.
But frankly, unless you're going to pick up a guy like Jayson Werth, who would fill a huge offensive and defensive void in the outfield for the Nats next year, I think the team absolutely must re-sign Dunn. I don't think it should be a given based solely on this year's performance. However, if you're not going to replace him with another above average bat and and a higher quality fielder, I don't see the point in wading into the free agent market.
For the Nats to land a big name in the free agent market, the team is going to have to overpay significantly in order to get that talent to choose the Nats over the Phillies, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Dodgers, etc. I'm not saying that the Nationals won't have to over pay for Adam Dunn, but at least you're over paying for a guy that you know works in your clubhouse and for your fans.