Afternoon Nationals thoughts (Dunn, De La Rosa)

Good afternoon, NatsTown. Just a couple quick things for you:

--Adam Dunn has to inform the Nationals today whether or not he will accept their arbitration offer for 2011. If he does, the Nationals have their first baseman for next year - and get to continue the back-and-forth dance about his future. If he doesn’t, they’ll be guaranteed two draft picks should he sign with another team. The conventional guess is that Dunn won’t accept arbitration, and that’s the prediction offered here, as well. He might have to DH to get his money, but there are still enough teams looking for a bat that it wouldn’t make sense for Dunn to cave yet.

--There’s quite a bit of rancor today about the Nationals missing out on Jorge De La Rosa, who agreed to a deal that will send him back to Colorado for three years. And there’s no doubt it’s another blow to the team’s goal of getting a pitcher to head their rotation in 2011. But pitching is almost always overvalued on the free agent market, and the only way a team like the Nationals is going to get it is by overpaying and rolling the dice that it hasn’t locked itself into a bad contract. De La Rosa, remember, has a lifetime 5.02 ERA. That’s worse than Jason Marquis, who got a two-year, $15 million deal from Washington last year. We saw what happened when the Marquis deal backfired on the Nationals this year, and they’re on the hook for another $7.5 million with him next year. In the long run, it could be a good thing that the Nationals didn’t give De La Rosa a big contract, especially if Stephen Strasburg returns healthy at the end of this year (or in 2012) or they can swing a trade for a starter. It’s frustrating for fans now, but there’s no guarantee that throwing money at the pitching problem will work out for the Nationals. The best way to fix it is to develop your own, and so far, they haven’t been able to do that. This is where that hurts you.