Depending on how you look at it, the Nationals caught a bit of a break this afternoon when Elias Sports Bureau's official arbitration rankings came out. In those rankings, Dunn is a Type A free agent, meaning he would net the Nationals two draft picks if they offered him arbitration and he left for another team in free agency.
Projections earlier this fall had put Dunn just below the cutoff for Type A status, but he would fetch the maximum return in free agency.
That, though, could be a good thing or a bad thing. The price is high to acquire Dunn; if a team picking in the bottom 15 spots of the first round signs Dunn, it would have to give the Nationals its first-round pick in next year's draft. Type B free agents, on the other hand, return only a "sandwich pick" after the first round, and don't cost the player's new team anything.
So with a higher compensation price on Dunn, teams could be less likely to pursue him this winter, and he could return to the Nationals if they offer him arbitration. But if they extended the arbitration offer and he left, they'd fetch a bigger return for him.
Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who is believed to be at the top of the Nationals' list of replacements for Dunn, is a Type B free agent, meaning he would not cost the Nationals anything if they signed him.
Other possible free agents of interest for the Nationals include: Jayson Werth (Type A), Cliff Lee (Type A), Carl Crawford (Type A), Derrek Lee (Type A), Paul Konerko (Type A), Carl Pavano (Type A) and Aubrey Huff (Type B).