As next Saturday’s MLB trade deadline quickly approaches, one of the prized position players who may be available is the Washington Nationals’ Adam Dunn. At this point, a contract extension to his current deal is highly unlikely and Dunn is frustrated by not having one already in place. Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington has reported that Dunn is seeking a 4-year $60M deal, but according to Buster Olney, Dunn is also losing interest in signing a long-term deal with the Nationals because of a perceived lack of urgency on his status in the organization.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo has stated his interest in keeping Dunn as a cornerstone of the organization and so far he has been reluctant to trade the power-hitting first baseman even though the White Sox, Yankees, and Angels are all very interested. Rizzo has gone on record saying he would have to be “extraordinarily overwhelmed” by an offer, although that maybe little more than posturing on his part.
In a recent post, MASN’s Ben Goessling makes valid points why the Nats should be hesitant towards a 4-year extension and as he says, “force the Nationals’ hand to trade him”. In the final year of a deal of that length Dunn’s 10-and-5 rights would kick in giving him veto power on any trade he’d be involved in. Goessling also points to the real probability of diminishing power numbers as he heads into his mid-30s.
I also believe another issue has factored into the Nationals’ assessment of the situation. Since the end of May, former first round pick Chris Marrero has made adjustments at the plate and has been killing the ball here in Harrisburg off of Double-A pitching. If Marrero continues the offensive production we’ve seen the last two months, the Nationals won’t want to tie up their first-base slot for the next four years (especially at $15M a year).
Since June 1, Marrero has hit .351 while improving his batter’s eye as his strikeout/BB rate has decreased considerably. I think the Nationals have been dragging their feet on the Dunn decision partly because of the tear Marrero has been on. The only area I have concern about yet is the converted outfielder’s defense at first base. On the season he already has 12 errors at a position that is typically low risk for blunders and miscues. For comparison to the major leagues, Dunn has committed 5 errors so far and the league-leaders (Howard, Barton, and Cabrera) are only at 9 on the season.
If Marrero continues to live up to the Nationals’ expectations, he may force their hand in their decision with Dunn. The next eight days will go a long way in revealing Marrero’s future with the organization and whether his path leads him to Washington or not.
Banking on 300,000
I’m pessimistic by nature, so it’s easy for me to fall into that kind of thinking. The suffocating heatwave didn’t help the recent attendance figures in the push to 300,000 and I’m afraid they’re running out of games to break that barrier. Through 51 home dates, they have drawn 204,500 spectators and are averaging 4,010 per game. That still leaves them on pace to set the single-season modern record…but how great would it be to top 300,000?