Monday, February 22, 2010

Will Adam Dunn Stay with the Nationals Long Term?

If Mike Rizzo had his way, it sure sounds like Dunn would be a National for a long time to come:

* Rizzo reiterated Saturday that he would like to sign Adam Dunn to a contract extension, but declined to talk about how the negotiations were going between the two parties. Dunn is a free agent after the 2010 season.

Rizzo went so far as to call Dunn one of his favorite players and predicted that he could be a future Hall of Famer if he continued to put up the power numbers.

"I love the guy," Rizzo said about Dunn. "There's not many 40-home run, 100-RBI guys running around out there. He fits in with this club. He's a very unique leader, I call him. He leads in a very quirky way, but leads nonetheless.

"He's always open to helping the younger players and we look at it this way: several years down the road if he continues at the pace he's at, we're going to be talking about Hall of Famer Adam Dunn."

The Nationals have had a tough time attracting big names to Washington, and let's be honest, Dunn is the only true big name free agent the Nationals brought on board in some time. And how's this for more honesty, the only reason Dunn is with the Nationals now is because no one else wanted him or was willing to give him the money the Nationals were.

But I digress. Dunn might not be the best long term answer for the Nationals because he is slow and his defense stinks, but there is no denying that Dunn makes the Nationals lineup deeper and far more potent. If the Nationals can hold off on giving Dunn more than a three (or four) year commitment at somewhere in the $10-$12 million dollar range, then I actually think that's a deal that could benefit the Nationals greatly down the road.

At the same time, Adam Dunn is in a pretty strange situation. He is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, but what kind of interest will there be in his services? Yes, Dunn is one of the premier power hitters in baseball, but now that teams are beginning to strongly emphasize defense and defensive analysis, how many teams will actually view him as just a DH in waiting? Not too many I'd imagine. Given how poorly DHs did on the free agent market the past two winters, my guess is that if Dunn hits the free agent market after this season, he will be disappointed yet again by the level of offers he will receive (even if he hits his annual 40 HR).

Dunn's impending free agency is nearly nine months away, but is it impossible to think that three or four year deal with the Nationals now would be the best contract he'd see all year? I don't think so.