What became increasingly apparent throughout the course of the season now looks official: Adam Dunn won't be back with the Nationals in 2011.
According to multiple reports, Dunn has agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, the team that was rumored to be pursuing the slugger most fiercely at July's trade deadline. Now the White Sox have him, at the price of a pick in next year's draft and the big multi-year deal the Nationals were reluctant to give the 31-year-old.
The Nationals talked throughout the season with Dunn about a contract extension, but the first baseman's defense was a sticking point for the team, and the two sides never got close on a contract extension. Dunn, who has repeatedly voiced his disdain for full time designated hitter duty, could end up playing first base in Chicago if the White Sox do not resign Paul Konerko, though they appeared to be in negotiations to bring Konerko back, as well. If nothing else, it was clear Dunn's primary market would be in the American League, where many scouts thought he would fit perfectly as a slugging DH.
Team and industry sources have said the Nationals are strongly interested in Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who is a free agent this winter and could now be the primary target to replace Dunn in the Nationals' lineup. If the Nationals don't get Pena, former Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche could be another option.
The White Sox have the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2011 draft, and the Nationals would get that selection if Chicago doesn't sign a higher-ranked Type A free agent than Dunn. They will also get a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of the draft.