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The gamble the Nationals take with an unsigned, un-traded Adam Dunn

As 4 p.m. approached and the Nationals clubhouse had cleared out aside from a few players, Willie Harris counted down along with the clock on the clubhouse television.

"Twenty seconds!" he said.

Adam Dunn's name was in the lineup.

"Fifteen seconds!"

Josh Willingham stood by, smiling and watching the television. Weeks of speculation, days packed with swirling rumors, were about to unravel into the status quo.

"Ten seconds!"

The price for Adam Dunn, General Manager Mike Rizzo, had said the day before, would remain high and not come down a bit at the deadline. The Chicago White Sox had offered Edwin Jackson after prying him from Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a source, and Rizzo had turned them down.

"Three!"

The Yankees had also made a run at Dunn days before. Rizzo turned them down.

"Two!"

The Nationals, it had become clear, had not gotten what they wanted for Dunn.

"One!"

When 4 p.m. struck, on the nose, the baseball world experienced an anti-climax and Dunn was still a National.

"I think all along, we felt that it was unlikely that something like that would happen," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "I guess if Mike got overwhelmed, then I would have gotten a call by now saying we were going to do something. I think everybody is happy with the way it turned out. He would have had to have been really overwhelmed with something to get him to move a guy like Adam Dunn. Obviously, that didn't happen."

The drama doesn't end now, if it's unlikely Dunn would pass through waivers between now and the Aug. 31 deadline to complete a waiver-wire deal. By keeping Dunn without signing him to an extension, the Nationals may have take the first step in what equates to a $6 million gamble.

They owe Dunn roughly $4.3 million of his salary in the final 58 games of the season. His production, while considerable, will not lead to any meaningful games.

If the Nationals allow Dunn to walk in free agency after offering him arbitration, they will receive two compensatory draft picks, like when Alfonso Soriano's departure following the 2006 season led to the drafting of potential rotation cornerstone Jordan Zimmermann. But the Nationals will have to pay bonuses to their draft picks, and the recommend "slot" price for those picks is about $800,000 - a total of $1.6 million.

Add it up, and the Nationals could end up paying about $6 million for two months of Dunn - on a team miles from contention - and two draft choices. Those prospects could turn into players as valuable as Zimmermann. Or the $6 million that could have been used to acquire a veteran bat or pitcher could turn into failed projects, into dust.

"They're rolling the dice," one baseball source said. If they don't sign Dunn to an extension, "it makes no sense."

The Nationals could lessen the risk by simply extending Dunn, who desires a four-year contract worth $60 million, according to a source. Both sides have publicly stated their wish to reach an agreement. Dunn, while not blaming the Nationals, has grown frustrated by the lack of progress. A source said Dunn's representatives approached the Nationals in spring training and did receive a counter-offer.

Mike Rizzo will speak to the media in a few moments. We'll have an update afterwards.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 31, 2010; 4:37 PM ET
Categories:  Adam Dunn , trade deadline  | Tags: Adam Dunn  
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Next: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo on not trading Adam Dunn

Comments

Happy he is still with the team, now they should sign him to a 3 or 4 year deal if they truly they can be in the mix next season.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 31, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to be like a broken record and say it on every Journal entry (until I head to the ballpark anyway!) -- 4 yrs / $60m is a steal. Get it done!!!!

Posted by: HenryStin | July 31, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Happy he is still with the team, now they should sign him to a 3 or 4 year deal if they truly think they can be in the mix next season.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 31, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Henry...shouldn't that read, get it Dunn?

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 31, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is an idiot once again. The way they treated Dunn is a disgrace. I hope he goes to free agency and gets what he deserves from another team.
Another blunder by Management.
The owner of this team is clueless how he lets these monkies run the ball club.
The team needs PITCHING which they don't have.

Posted by: chiro1623 | July 31, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

OMG just sign him already. Do the Lerners even understand what the fans want? Signing Dunn, a true slugger and clean-up guy who wants to be here is a NO-Brainer!

Posted by: mcgratsp | July 31, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

2011 lineup

CF Morgan
SS Desmond
3B Zimmerman
1B Dunn
LF Willingham
RF Morse
2B Espinosa
C Ramos

Rotation
Strasburg
Zimmermann
FA (perhaps De La Rosa, Harden, or Westbrook)
Maya
Detwiler/Olsen/Livo/Marquis/Wang

Without too many injuries, I think a lineup like that could contend. Do you all agree?

Posted by: dcsportsfan13 | July 31, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

If they don't sign Dunn or Bryce Harper, all the goodwill from Strasburg's arrival will have dissipated from an increasingly cynical fan base. Rolling the Soriano dice a second time is risky, particularly in a relatively unsophisticated baseball market such as this one, where star power is a necessity.

Posted by: VPaterno | July 31, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

chiro1623 said "The way they treated Dunn is a disgrace".

You may feel that way. But I assure you that Adam Dunn does not feel that way. There's a business side to this, and Dunn and Rizzo and everyone else involved in this game knows that.

Just let this play out.
If Dunn signs, do you think he or anyone else will care that the Nats fielded offers for him? Of course not.

Look at it this way.
Dunn did not get traded because Rizzo valued him more than other GM's valued him. Right? How is this disgraceful???

Posted by: Sunderland | July 31, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, am happy that Dunn is still here. Of course we apparently have a prize in Mr. "Major League ready" Ramos. Since he cant hit well in the minors, he is sure to light it up in the majors. Hopefully I will be wrong but this trade seems to be waste.

Posted by: CountDemoney | July 31, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

2011 lineup

CF Morgan/Bernadina
SS Desmond
3B Zimmerman
1B Morse/Dunn/Willingham
LF Willingham/Free Agent
RF Morse/Bernadina/Free Agent
2B Free Agent/Espinosa
C Pudge/Ramos

Rotation:
1.Strasburg
2.Zimmermann
3.Olsen
4.Maya/Detwiler/Livo/Marquis/Wang
5.Maya/Detwiler/Livo/Marquis/Wang

Posted by: dmacman88 | July 31, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

You're saying the same thing the guys at ESPN are saying "Given level of interest in Dunn from TB, NYY, CHW and Tigers, it's clear Dunn could get 3-year, 4-year offers in the winter." and "The wide expectations from other teams is that there is no chance that Adam Dunn gets deep into waivers without being claimed. The team that is in the best position today to put in a claim on him is the SF Giants."

I think the majority of Nats fans want to keep Dunn with the team. I think it's also true that the Nats still have one of the lowest payrolls in the majors. C'mon, guys (Lerner's & Rizzo) - quit being such cheap jerks and resign him already. If you don't, it's a major loss to the franchise & the city.

Posted by: PostIDJYP | July 31, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is an idiot once again. The way they treated Dunn is a disgrace. I hope he goes to free agency and gets what he deserves from another team.
Another blunder by Management.
The owner of this team is clueless how he lets these monkies run the ball club.
The team needs PITCHING which they don't have.

Posted by: chiro1623 | July 31, 2010 5:02 PM
----------------------------------
Adam Dunn was a joke to many in baseball after he was humiliated in Toronto. So did the Reds and D'Backs also disrespect him?

Did baseball disrespect him because nobody but the Nats wanted him.

It could be a cold Winter if Dunn dips into Free Agency. I think the Nats will offer Free Agency arbitration to him and he will end up accepting it and be here another year.

He accepted a 2 year deal to come here so why not take a 3 year deal now?

Don't always blame Rizzo, some of the blame needs to go on Dunn also!

Also, there is very good pitching that should be ready and healthy. I think the problem was the extra bat they were missing at 2nd base and RF for so long.

Posted by: dmacman88 | July 31, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Don't be learners, Lerners. Sign the slugger & a fan favorite.

Posted by: Hattrik | July 31, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

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