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The Dunn decision

By Box Seats blogger

By Ryan Korby

A few weeks ago, I argued that the Nationals should sign Adam Dunn to a long-term contract, but last week’s announcement that Dunn is a Type A free agent makes the decision much harder. The Nationals seem to have made the internal decision to raise the white flag on the 2011 season in order to make a big push for 2012. If this is the case, then signing Dunn has to be looked at as wasting another year in his prime and hoping he’s still the same player at 32.

The basics of the Type A free agent designation were explained by the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore a couple of days ago. It boils down to if the Nationals offer Dunn arbitration (a one-year deal) and he rejects it, they will be rewarded a draft pick from whatever team signs him and a supplementary pick. It’s a virtual lock that Dunn would reject arbitration since it’s well known that he wants a long-term contract.

Since, the first 18 picks of next year’s draft are protected, when Dunn rejects arbitration every Nats fan should be rooting for the Tigers to win the Dunn-key sweepstakes. The Tigers own the first unprotected choice, the 19th draft pick. Out of all the teams who I’ve heard are interested in Dunn, the Nats have the most to gain potentially if the Tigers sign him. The way free agency works, a team with a high ranking Type A free agent has a higher claim on the team that signs him. Since Dunn is the seventh lowest rated Type A, the Nats have to root for Dunn to sign with the Tigers and then hope Detroit stays quiet the rest of the free agent signing period. The White Sox also may also be a potentially good landing spot for Dunn if you’re a Nats fan. The White Sox have the 23rd pick in the draft.

A potential bad situation is if the Cubs or Yankees sign Dunn. Both are perennially big spenders. Plus, the Cubs first-round selection is protected, so the highest pick the Nats can be compensated with is their second round pick. The Yankees assuredly will go after more than one Type A free agent and if they were to sign Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Dunn, the Nats would only get the Yankees third round pick, which is a lot less valuable. The same thing happened to the Blue Jays a few years ago, when the Yankees signed C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.

The Nats are aiming to build a nucleus of young players that will help them compete for the NL East title. Since Stephen Strasburg isn’t expected to pitch important innings until 2012 and Bryce Harper isn’t expected to appear in a Nationals uniform until then either, it makes sense to start building for a competitive window starting in 2012. Making this window as wide as possible is a good idea and that starts with building through the draft with the compensation picks for losing Dunn. In the 2006 draft, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, Colby Rasmus and Clay Buchholz were all available after the 19th pick. Having two players of that caliber playing alongside Strasburg and Harper for five seasons is much more enticing that having Dunn manning first base for maybe a year or two while Strasburg and Harper are in their prime.

Of course, the other thing that needs to be mentioned is that the Nats shouldn’t replace Dunn with a Type A free agent of their own, which means no Derrek Lee. Early draft picks are too important. Carlos Peña does make the cut, though.

By Box Seats blogger  | November 2, 2010; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  Nationals, Ryan Korby  | Tags:  Nationals, Ryan Korby  
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Well, it sounds like another 100+ loss season is on tap down at Nots Landing in 2011. Of course, they're going to add Strasburg and Harper to the lineup the following season, so that will mean the team will be competing for a championship! Yes, two players who have to this point combined for one-half season of minor league baseball are going to open the door to the Promised Land. Nothing else will be necessary.

With the Giants much in the news these days, I'm reminded of the 1956 New York Giants. They possessed Willie Mays, arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, and Johnny Antonelli, after Warren Spahn arguably the best southpaw in the NL during the middle-to-late 1950s. Both were in their mid-20s prime, both had superb seasons. The Giants finished 6th in an 8-team league, with a record of 67-87.

Strasburg and Harper could turn out to be everything it is hoped they will be in 2012, it still won't be anywhere near enough.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | November 2, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

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