We'll have more from Nationals GM Mike Rizzo later today in his blog entry for this week, but I wanted to point out one pertinent quote from my discussion with him yesterday. Asked if the Nationals have reached a point where discussions with Adam Dunn on a contract extension need to pick up, Rizzo said this:
"We like Adam Dunn. We think he's part of the plan. We're going to stay in communication and try and get him signed. If we can't get him signed, it'll be unfortunate, but we're certainly going to have somebody at first base that's going to be a bat for us, and I hope it's Adam, because he's done a lot for the organization and he's a heck of a good player."
Read into that what you will, but my take on it is, the Nationals plan to pursue one of the free agent first basemen available this winter if they don't sign Dunn. Club sources have said the front office "loves" Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who might be available on a shorter, cheaper deal than Dunn, and players like Derrek Lee and Paul Konerko are also free agents this winter.
From everything I've heard inside the organization, I continue to believe the Nationals will let Dunn walk and pursue a different first baseman this winter, one who they feel can play better defense than Dunn. The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell wrote the same this morning.
There's still a possibility the Nationals could work out a deal with Dunn after the season; he would file for free agency within 15 days after the end of the World Series. The Nationals would have those 15 days as an exclusive negotiating window with Dunn, and they can also offer him arbitration for the 2011 season, which is also their way to get draft pick compensation for him.
On Wednesday, Rizzo sounded in no rush to get a deal finished with Dunn.
"There's no time parameters or any deadline other than the imposed deadline by rule," Rizzo said.