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.
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.
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.
The Yankees had also made a run at Dunn days before. Rizzo turned them down.
The Nationals, it had become clear, had not gotten what they wanted for Dunn.
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.
July 31, 2010; 4:37 PM ET
Categories: Adam Dunn , trade deadline | Tags: Adam Dunn
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