My friend Bill Ladson at mlb.com has reported that there’s been no trade talks between Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo and his White Sox counterpart Kenny Williams regarding Adam Dunn. There had been earlier reports that something was going on between the two clubs regarding Washington’s first baseman.
Dunn’s not a great first first baseman; we all get that. He’s not a great hitter either - he’s a dangerous one. A lot of big leaguers fit that description.
Dunn will likely have a similar season offensively this year as he had last year. He’s been pretty consistent in saying number one: he doesn’t want to be traded, and number two: he doesn’t want to be a DH. He’s sincere about that. It’s pretty obvious from watching him interact with his teammates that that he’s happy in Washington, and is a major part of a pretty good clubhouse.
If he were to be traded, who would play first? If a first baseman were to be included as part of a trade package, you can be sure it would not be a guy with any degree of major league stats this season. The first baseman-in-waiting, Chris Marrero - the first round pick from 2006 - seems to be getting his act together at the plate in Harrisburg.
Admittedly, I’ve had doubts about Marrero, based on conversations with scouts from various teams who saw him play in A ball, but this year he’s an Eastern League All-Star, and deservedly so. He turns 22 on Friday, but I seriously doubt they’d put him in a big league lineup until sometime next year. He still tends to strike out a lot. Dunn does, too, but he walks a lot more than Marrero.
Syracuse first baseman Chris Duncan has big league experience but is hitting only .203 as this is written.
Would they move someone like Willingham to first base? It’s not out of the question - he takes ground balls there from time to time - but his outfield play has improved a great deal, and there’s really no other everyday outfielder on the club, unless you put Michael Morse out there.
Mike Rizzo has been quoted as saying that trading Dunn would be “painful for the Nationals, and painful for whoever traded for him,” referring to whatever package it would take to make the swap.
Dunn’s two-year contract expires this season, and there have been on-again, off-again talks of an extension. He could be traded and then re-signed next winter, or they could just stand pat and see what offers come his way this offseason.
Back in the waning days of the Washington Senators, the Cleveland Indians kept trying to trade for slugger Frank Howard, but the packages of players never seemed to include any frontline guys. They throw out names like Steve Hargan, Vern Fuller, and Sonny Siebert (who had once no-hit the Senators), but never any top notch prospects. It was like, “We’ll give you a bunch of guys who can play a little bit for your best player...” Hondo was never moved because as dim an owner as Bob Short may have been, he knew who the people’s choice was.
Adam Dunn hasn’t been around long enough to enjoy the status that Howard did, but he’s got a similar personality and rapport with his teammates. Whether that counts for a whole lot in the final equation remains to be seen.