Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sign Adam Dunn? Be Careful What You Wish For...

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On Tuesday night, the Nationals gave out "Mr. Walkoff" t-shirts to celebrate Ryan Zimmerman's notorious ability to hit the game-winning walkoff home run. But Adam Dunn happily took the Mr. Walkoff title that night. Dunn destroyed a ball to right center field, guaranteeing that the team would have an above .500 record at home for 2010 (they currently stand 41-39 with one game left at home).

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.


  1. The point on "Alfonso Soriano Syndrome" is well-taken. The only difference between post-2006 and post-2010 is that in 2006-07, Soriano was truly their only gun, and they'd lose with or without him. In 2010, a reasonable person can look at the Nationals' pieces and see a plausible (if uphill) scenario for playoff contention in the forseeable future.

    I think it's risky to bank on the Nats outbidding New York, Boston, Philly, etc. for a big signing like Werth, let alone a monster signing like Pujols or Prince Fielder. So taking into account Dunn's strengths and weaknesses, the question is, what course of action gives the Nats the best shot at contention in 2011/12/13? A. Adam Dunn at cleanup. B. Some unknown slugger yet to be signed. C. Juggling of Willingham, Morse, etc. In my opinion, Choice A is the best.

  2. The biggest problem the Nats have here is that they are going to lose even more of their fanbase should they fail to resign Dunn and do not add another big name. Nats Fanboy Looser is one who is already on record as saying that if Dunn goes he'll stop attending the games.

    Ownership backed itself into a corner by allowing the team to crash to such miserable depths, and now they'll have to pay for it if they want to see anything other than empty seats at Nats Stadium.

  3. I think they have got to resign Dunn, I don't think his offensive numbers will decline due to age, its not as though loss of speed will be affecting him. And while his defense isn't pretty he has worked on it this year at 1B, if he continues to do so it will remain manageable.

    For as much as people applaud the idea of letting Soriano walk to get draft picks, Josh Smoker hasn't done ANYTHING for the Nats. And he likely never will. While Jordan Zimmermann is one of our bright young pitchers, he still has yet to truly impact this team and has already had one major surgery. Also, he wasn't some top prospect we stole or had to sign significantly over slot. He very well could have been there 3 picks later when we drafted. I still believe we could have gotten more value from prospects in a trade (who would already be playing with the Nats) than Zimmermann-Smoker.

    Outside of trading for a bat I don't see how the Nats can replace Dunn. The only other big name players are Cliff Lee (no shot), Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. While the Nats could get in the Crawford and Werth markets so will every big name team, so the Nats will have to vastly overpay to land them. I'd rather pay Dunn 4 years $60 million, than Werth 6-7 years at a higher yearly rate. Sure Werth is better defensively at a tougher position so his value will be probably equal to Dunn's those first 4 years, but when he is 35, 36, 37 do we really think he will still be great defensively in the OF?

    Now don't get me wrong I would support pursuing them if they are to supplement Dunn, but if they are just going to supplant him it doesn't make sense. I would choose the shorter years and less money, if you are only going to have one of those three players.

    If Dunn signs somewhere else because a team tacks on a 5th or 6th year or offers him vastly more money I can understand (though will still regret not trading him). But if he ends up signing for around $60 million over 4 years, and the Nats wouldn't match I will say they made a big mistake.

  4. Ask yourself would you rather see? Chris Marerro? He is almost ready. if he does well in Syracuse then? He may actually field far worst than Dunn, as likely does Tyler Moore? Of the three who do you believe would be the most productive in the middle of the order? Which of them has the rarer left handed bat?

    Carlos "sub-Mendoza 2 years older fading fast" Pena?

    Dunn is the best solution for the Natinals over the next 2-3 years at first base. With Morse backing him up I don't see any better solution out there. Do you?

  5. It's up to Adam Dunn to sign. Why is the onus being put on the Nationals as though they were not offering Dunn a contract? Last night's four strikeout performance when the fans gave him the "jitters" was not a solid argument for throwing an excessive contract at him. Perhaps he gets these "jitters" when he's at bat with runners in scoring position or when he game is on the line.

    I agree that keeping Dunn is our best option, but not if it means a $100 Million contract or something outrageous like that.