Friday, July 10, 2009

Rizzo Says Dunn Is Untouchable... Why?

Earlier this week, Mike Rizzo said flatly that "We are not trading Adam Dunn. That's as definitive as I can be."

Now, it's possible that this is a bluff of some kind to drive up the asking prices for Dunn, but I highly doubt it. A statement like won't generate better offers. It will make the phone stop ringing altogether.

So assuming that Dunn really is untouchable, the question is: why?

Dunn is signed through next year at $10 million a year. It's clear that the Nationals aren't winning anything next year. Even if everything breaks just right and they go sign a top-tier starter like John Lackey and conjure up a solid bullpen, they still won't have enough pitching to reach .500, much less contend.

This is a rebuilding team that still needs to put a it's primary focus on stockpiling young talent. Dunn is one of a few players on the team that could fetch a decent package of prospects. The team is talking as if Dunn might be around to play for a contender, but at 29 he's past his peak and probably isn't the kind of guy who will age real well.

The list of potential suitors is long. The Tigers, White Sox, Angels, Mets, Cubs, and Giants are all contenders who could all use Dunn's bat. He'd be especially valuable for the Tigers or Angels, who could play him at DH.

Last year, Arizona gave up Micah Owings and a couple C-level prospects (guys who project as major league back-ups, maybe less). What might a team give up for a season-and-a-half of Big Donkey?

Plus, if the team is serious about upgrading the defense (and they have to be), they can't carry Dunn, Josh Willingham, and Cristian Guzman. One, some, or all those guys have to go.

I'm not saying Dunn should be auctioned off to whoever shows up, but I don't see why he'd be regarded as untouchable.


John O'Connor said...

I took "we're not trading Adam Dunn" as a weasely way to say "we're not shopping Adam Dunn."

It leaves Rizzo room to say he wasn't shopping him around but got bowled over by an offer he never thought he'd get.

As you say, I don't run him out of here, but I'd trade him for a prospect in a second.

Mr. Mustache said...

See Adam Dunn bobblehead day in August and Adam Dunn T-Shirt day coming up this month.
Next consideration is what if we give him a qualifying offer at the end of next year and he bolts? That's draft picks.

Roberto said...

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this team utterly stinks and that shopping Dunn would send an even worse message to the 34 remaining fans that losses like last night's do.

I understand your reasoning and, on some levels, agree with it, but propsects are just that, prospects. They bring to mind the expression that starts with "a bird in the hand . . ."

Two years ago, Baseball America assured us that Ross Detweiler and Josh Smoker projected as front-of-the-rotation starters, perhaps even aces. How's that working out so far? Two years ago, Jay Bruce was a "can't miss." So far, he's missed.

All of these guys still have time to turn it around but let's not kid ourselves: these kinds of trades are, in most case, pennies or maybe nickels on the dollar kind of transactions.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with Roberto that stat guys tend to way over value prospects, but in this case, Stephen is right. Dunn still has 1.5 more seasons on a very reasonable contract. Therefore, we might actually get something better than the pennies on the dollar that are usually offered for rent-a-players. I don't get why Rizzo won't at least entertain offers.

Souldrummer said...

To me, Rizzo was almost pressured into that comment on a fan call-in show of one of the team's most popular players. I agree with John. I feel "we're not trading Adam Dunn" means more that we have a high asking price for him. Dunn has provided some of the signature fan moments of the year with his home runs vs. the Orioles and during the last homestand. They're not going to be as open about shopping him until they are "suprised" by the offer that they get.

I would love to see them trade Dunn, but like Guzman, I think that other teams value defense more than we do and I don't know whether we'll get as good a value as you seem to feel. I'd love an AL team to take him, though.

Steven said...

I don't know what "stat guys" have to do with anything. Baseball America is the scouting bible.

There are no can't miss players. Not free agents, not prospects, no one. A lot of people wanted us to go get Andruw Jones two years ago. He was the top FA out there. How's that worked?

The point is that we need to build a team. That means guys who are good together. It's unlikely thta Dunn will still be good by the time the Nationals have a good group of players to go with him. Therefore, he shouldn't be untouchable.

David said...

I think Dunn makes 8 million this year and 12 next. If a team trades for Dunn this year they are on the hook for approx. 16 million dollars. Only a few team can add that type of payroll and there are a few other option available for a lot less. If you think Dunn will have a good half a year next year the number of teams that can afford him increases. Also the team that would sign him could get draft picks. No player should be off limits, but he may be worth more next year and the Nationals rebuilding process will take much much longer.

estuartj said...

I think they have decided to trade Nick Johnson (compare Rizzo's comment regarding Johnson with what he said about Dunn).

If we trade Dunn and lose Nick to injury or FA we have a huge whole in the line-up, again! Nick needs to be traded, Guzman too if we can find a home, move Dunn to 1B where his defensive liability will be as minimal as possible, then Willingham can move to LF maximizing his power and defense and then Dukes likely returns from AAA to play RF. With Guzman if he goes we can start Alberto Gonzalez and Anderson Hernandez or Willie Harris every night and dramatically upgrade the infield defense, even allowing for Dunn at 1B, ditto that with Morgan and Dukes playing alongside Willingham.

The question is how much of Guzman's remaining $12 must we eat and how valuable a return can we get for each player.

Dave Nichols said...

i think Rizzo was unfairly backed into a corner by the radio reporter on that and he said something he didn't mean. from all my exposure to him, Rizzo the executive wouldn't limit his options like that.

i agree with the sentiment expressed above that he probably meant that he wasn't shopping DUnn, not that he wouldn't trade him outright. cause if Rizzo meant taht, he shouldn't be in the position of GM.

Sasskuash said...

Estuartj- So what if we have a hole in the line up for the rest of the year? We're the worst team in MLB without that hole. By a lot. If we trade Dunn and lose NJ also (FA, injury, trade, mysterious fatal Dodo attack- I can't count anything out for Slick Nick) we can move Willingham to 1st for a year (until either Marrero or Derek "I can kick Chuck's ass" Norris are ready for MLB pitching) and call up Dukes with another OF to fill in the OF for a year. I think Maxwell's bat can play in RF, this Davis kid did well last year, the team seems sold on Bernadina- we have guys who can play OF, and I think Dukes' bat can play in LF. If there's a solid package for Dunn, I don't think you even consider a hole it would leave in this season's team. Frankly, if they got worse nobody would even notice.

Roberto said...

What can we get for Dunn? Let's start with "who would be interested in trading for him?" As is often argued, a winning team would want Dunn as a DH because of his defensive deficiencies.

That reduces the number of possible partners to 14. Of those 14, we're looking for teams who (a), need a bat, (b) see themselves as in contention for the post-season and, (c), are willing to add the $15-16 million to payroll.

Who fits that description? As FJB noted, the Angels do. But, according to Baseball America, their farm system is in worse shape than the Nationals. (And that was before Adenhart's tragic death in April.) What would they have to offer that could justify Rizzo contradicting himself? Brandon Wood? Please!

The Tigers? Same as the Angels: even with Porcello, their system was rated below the Nats. White Sox? You know the drill.

Mets? Ha!

The Giants are interesting but I doubt they would give up the kind of players that would make the deal justifiable in something other than a "let's tear the stinking house down" sense.

Like I said: pennies and nickels on the dollar.

Steven said...

It's not hard to imagine that the Nationals would be a better team with Willingham in LF and Dukes in RF than with Willingham in RF and Dunn in LF.

John O'Connor said...

Dunn is untouchable in the sense that he won't touch second base.

I imagine Dunn's value ias a player is 50% higher in the American League.

Putting aside the merits, I'm going to bet that demoting Dukes to AAA was part of an exit strategy and he won't be back. If that's right, I still don't think it would be a huge step back from where we are now to have an outfield of Willingham, Morgan, and your standard-issue adequate guy in right. Look at what Seattle is showing us about the value of outfielders who can hit a little and field a lot.

Steven said...

Bring back Langerhans!!!