Monday, November 8, 2010

Catching up on things

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Adam Dunn is now a free agent and free to sign with anyone.
Back home in D.C., catching up on what's been going on in NatsTown the last few days...

Dunn becomes a free agent
Adam Dunn was free to begin negotiating with any major-league club at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, so the Nationals now have no leverage over anyone else in attempting to re-sign the big slugger. I don't think anyone actually believed the two sides would come to a deal prior to Sunday. From the moment the Nats opted not to trade Dunn at the July 31 deadline, it was clear he would test the open market and see what's out there.

Does this mean there's zero chance Dunn re-signs with the Nationals? No. I still believe he'd come back if the Nats make an offer commensurate with others that are out there. What are other clubs going to offer? We have to wait and see, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's less money (and years) out there than Dunn and agent Greg Genske believe there is.

The conventional wisdom all along has been that Dunn is seeking a four-year deal. Is there a team willing to give a suspect first baseman who turns 31 tomorrow a four-year deal? I'm not so sure, especially when it comes to National League clubs.

There's been a lot of talk about the Cubs going hard after Dunn, but this is an organization already saddled with a bunch of bad contracts (hello, Alfonso Soriano) and a new owner who has suggested payroll will not be increased in 2011. The North Siders may ultimately make a play at Dunn, but I don't know they're willing to go to four years.

The majority of the serious suitors for Dunn's services are going to be American League teams. The Tigers are definitely interested. The Yankees could be. Others surely will get involved. Knowing they can always move Dunn to designated hitter if his defensive skills erode, those AL clubs are probably more inclined to offer a fourth year. But Dunn would have to be willing to DH, something he's always loathed.

In the end, I think this plays out exactly as we speculated back in August. Dunn ultimately has to decide if he'd rather take a four-year deal from an AL club or a three-year deal from an NL club. If he really is as opposed to DH'ing as he's always claimed, the Nationals still have a chance.

Either way, I don't see resolution to this matter coming very soon. It takes time for the market to play out, especially with Genske trying to put pressure on multiple teams to offer a fourth year.

Meanwhile, Willie Harris, Miguel Batista and Kevin Mench all have become free agents as well. I don't see any chance of Harris or Mench returning. I think it's possible Batista, who held down a valuable role as long reliever/spot starter, comes back. But that decision probably wouldn't happen for a while, and the Nats would probably insist on the veteran right-hander agreeing to a minor-league contract.

Kennedy, Olsen, Walker, English cut loose
Adam Kennedy, Scott Olsen, Tyler Walker and Jesse English all made the Nationals' Opening Day roster out of spring training. None worked out as hoped, and now none remains employed by the Nats.

The club chose not to pick up the $2 million option on Kennedy, instead enacting a $500,000 buyout for the veteran second baseman, who kept losing out to Cristian Guzman and Danny Espinosa for playing time and never found any groove when he did get a chance to play. I think the Nats will look to sign another veteran infielder who could take over at second base if Espinosa proves not to be ready, but I wouldn't expect it to be any player of consequence. Espinosa looks like the real deal, and he would have to really look overwhelmed in spring training and next April for the club to demote him.

Olsen, too, will play elsewhere after the Nationals secured outright waivers on him, which the left-hander declined and thus became a free agent. The Nats took a chance last winter bringing Olsen back after nontendering him. That won't happen this winter. After another injury-plagued season (not to mention some grumbling on Olsen's part about how he was treated) the two sides are more than happy to part with each other.

Walker was granted his unconditional release on Friday. After having his season cut short by labrum surgery, the 34-year-old may consider retirement.

English's release after the Nats secured outright waivers on him is unfortunate, because the club seemed pretty high on the left-hander coming out of spring training. He made a few impressive April appearances before being optioned to Class AAA because the team needed to clear space for Livan Hernandez's addition to the rotation, struggled at Syracuse, had bone chips removed from his elbow and was never heard from again.

Harper continues to shine in AZ
He's played in only six games for the Scottsdale Scorpions, but Bryce Harper has made the most of his playing time in the Arizona Fall League. The 18-year-old is batting .348 with a homer, four RBI, two doubles, a .423 on-base percentage and a .988 OPS. He has struck out eight times in 23 at-bats, but that's probably to be expected from an aggressive, first-time pro ballplayer facing the best competition he's ever seen.

Because he's on the Scorpions' taxi squad, Harper was ineligible to appear in Saturday's "Rising Stars" game. Two Nats prospects (Michael Burgess and Cole Kimball) were on the roster for that all-star showcase. Only Burgess (0-for-2, strikeout) appeared in the game.

On a personal note
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your condolences the last few days. I was touched by all of the kind words and reflections. The trip back home to Arizona, as I hoped, proved to be an enjoyable one as we all celebrated my grandmother's 95 years with stories, home movies, plenty of laughs and of course some tears. There was nothing she enjoyed more than large family gatherings, and I know she was watching all of us and kvelling about it all just as she always did.


Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Welcome back, Mark. Thanks for the news and notes, and thanks just for being here. You're the best.

bobn said...

I read in the SF/Oakland papers that there is interest in Dunn by both the Giants and the A's..Aubrey Huff moves to the OF if the Giants sign Dunn...and the A's use him at 1B and DH...heard anything?

phil dunn said...

I think Dunn is as good as gone. It's quite obvious the Nats are looking for a better fielding, cheaper option at first base. Rather than pay fairly large bucks to a Pena or a Laroche, I'd rather see Mike Morse get the job.

SonnyG10 said...

Welcome back, Mark. Sure missed your blogs.

Steve M. said...

Welcome back Mark. Luckily you didn't miss much in NatsTown.

The Adam Dunn rumors will continue for a while and I would expect teams to show interest just like they did after the 2008 season which in 2008 those rumors were all fluff as it turned out. He is now 2 years older and not necessarily 2 years wiser although I would say the only positive is that Dunn is on the market as a 1st baseman now which is a lot more marketable then as a Leftfielder.

Dunn was loved in Cincinatti for his rookie season and soon they started to turn on him. The Washington fans embraced him as Frank Howard part deux and you would hope that he would come back to the fans that want him instead of taking a chance of being run out of a town again. While NYY is a great place for some, they could turn on Dunn real quickly and worse than anything he has ever experienced in his life.

That's my 2 cents!

Doc said...

Hey MarkMeister, welcome back!

I found J. Flores catching for the Navegantes de Magallanes in the Venezuelan League--must have been a late addition.

Good news. He threw out 2 base runners trying to steal 2nd, in his first game. Next game no runners took a shot at his arm. So far he's hitting the ball too! Ramos is also getting some base knocks.

Don't think a quality FA pitcher, interested in winning, will sign if Dunn isn't on the roster.

Big Cat said...

Welcome back Mark, sorry about your grandma.

Whats up with the rumors of Aaron Rowand coming to the Nats. Would love to see it. Getting a little long in the tooth but is a professional in the clubhouse. Gotta be better than the Morgan

Pilchard said...

Looks like the A's will land highly regarded Japanese Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. The other finalists were the Rangers and the Mariners. Iwakuma was 34-10 over the last two years in the Japanese Pacific League. Thought the Nats might take a shot at him, but I guess not.

The link:

N. Cognito said...

Big Cat said...
"Whats up with the rumors of Aaron Rowand coming to the Nats."

What rumors? Anything concrete or just media speculation?

Pilchard said...
"Looks like the A's will land highly regarded Japanese Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma."

GOOD! Let someone else risk that kind of money on a question mark.

Steve M. said...

Is this the Nats new advertising campaign? If so, one commentor already changed EXPECT IT to EXPECT ^*IT (1st 2 letters deleted).

"EXPECT WINS" would be a lot more to the point as at least the team played well at home. I remember how bad 2008 and 2009 were and there actually was a lot to cheer for in 2010. I just don't know if 2011 will be a step forward or a transition year. The Free Agent market is super thin and there won't be any help from Strasburg and Bryce Harper so it may be EXPECT ^*IT.

N. Cognito said...

2012 - It's Not Really That Far Off!

JamesFan said...

San Francisco looks to me like a great fit for Dunn. Dunn behind all that pitching would be pretty potent. SF is my prediction.

Anonymous said...

JamesFan, if SF wouldn't pony up the $9 mill option for Renteria who was their World Series MVP, why do you think they would commit to a 4 year $52 million contract for Dunn?

The Giants like what they have in Aubrey Huff and want to get him re-signed.

N. Cognito said...

Texas? They did get rid of Vladi. Pay him enough, Dunn will be a happy DH.

Anonymous said...

The sight of Dunn in a rally thong would have to detract from the Giants clubhouse chemistry, if indeed they even make women's thongs big enough to fit him.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't matter if SF added Zack Greinke and Cliff Lee to their rotation. Dunn is a bad-mojo loser who never has and never will play for a winning team.

Isn't that right Feel Wood?

NatsJack in Florida said...

First off, welcome back Mark. I've held off posting on your site till you were back in action.

Thought it was interesting that in the Sports Illustrated Extra that gets e-mailed to me, the article on Cliff Lee and the Yankess goes on to list all the major free agents and their status but somehow fails to even mention Adam Dunn.

I do believe alot of us over estimate Adam's value.

Feel Wood said...

"I do believe alot of us over estimate Adam's value."

Including Dunn's agent.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I was trying to be respectful of several responders on this site (as well as Dunn's agent).

pahou said...

Mark welcome back just curious what part of Arizona?

Anonymous said...

Genske and Brian Peters who represent Dunn have very short memories and I think Adam Dunn does also.

Genske & Peters need to remember back to the Fall of 2008 and Winter of 2009 when the only team calling was the Washington Nationals with a 2 year deal.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I'd like to adress the Jesus Flores situation, as well. There have been several management bashers accusing Rizzo of "not knowing his facts" when he stated that Flores would be playing winter ball and then he didn't immediately show up on any rosters.

I was able to speak with Jesus during his last week at the Fall Florida Instructional League and he told me that he hadn't made up his mind where he was going for Winter baseball. He wanted to get home and had hopes he could play in Venezuela but was willing to play anywhere in the Carribean.

As it turns out, he did land in Venezuela. The player I witnessed in Florida was in immensely better shape than at anytime in his life. He was lean and strong, displaying both power and a quickness that I haven't seen in a catcher.

He still has to prove his ability to stay healthy but the Nats catching for next season looks like a strong point.

Steve M. said...

Who would you consider the prize of the 1st base crop of Free Agents?

Konerko, Dunn, Pena, Huff, Berkman, D. Lee, LaRoche, N. Johnson

I would say Konerko as he had his best season for the White Sox with that .393 OBP, 39 HRs and that 5.0 WAR but he is 34 years old.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I don't see any of them as a long term solution. Adam LaRoche strikes me as a good fit for 2 years.

Mark Zuckerman said...

pahou said...
Mark welcome back just curious what part of Arizona?

Scottsdale, about 20 minutes from the home of Bryce Harper's Arizona Fall League club. Unfortunately, the circumstances of this trip didn't allow for me to take in a ballgame.

NatsJack in Florida said...


Any chance you'll be making the meetings in Orlando next week?

Steve M. said...

Good article on the best 1st baseman not named Pujols, Votto, Cabrera Youkilis, or Morneau (notice, not including Texeira!)

Mark Zuckerman said...

NatsJack: Won't be at next week's GM meetings, but I will be in town next month for the Winter Meetings.

Another_Sam said...

Have any of you guys been to winter baseball in the Carribean?

Mark -- glad you're back. Your tribute piece was so moving; so nicely done. Thank you.

Lots of guys here have said something to the effect of " . . . and Dunn really likes it here . . ." as if that were a factor. Nonsense. These guys work for the man just like I do. They have short careers and I support their pursuit of whatever they think is best for themselves. That said, I hope dunn is here next year too.

N. Cognito said...

Winter Meetings - BIG DEAL! Nothing ever happens at them anymore, anyway. What I want to know Mark, will you be at the uniform fashion show?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Not sure I agree with you that nothing happens at the winter meetings. That's where the Nats acquired Alfonso Soriano, Elijah Dukes and Ivan Rodriguez, just to name a few.

But yes, I'll also be at Wednesday night's uniform fashion show. With my trusty camera.

Anonymous said...

Winter baseball in the Dominican Republic in January, during their playoffs, is an amazing sports and cultural experience.
Just the best.
A game in Santiago, between Las Aguilas and Licey, is as loud and boisterous as it gets.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Mark; here's appreciation to your Grandmother for a life well lived.

FYI, there is NO chance that Dunn goes to the Yankees; the Yankees have Texeira at 1b already, and even if Dunn was willing to play DH that spot is also reserved for as a spot for players (primarily Jeter, A-Rod, Posada) to get a rest while keeping the bat in the lineup. The Yankees have said they are giving uber-prospect Jesus Montero a chance to win the everyday catching job, which would make Posada the regular DH. They may sign a cheap thumper like Thames this year for bench strength and occasional DHing, but they're not going to invest north of $10 million in that spot.

Of course, if the Nationals push the Lee bidding up with a serious effort to sign him that makes a Dunn signing even less likely. I don't know if Rizzo is that Machiavellian though. :D

If you get a chance Mark, I'd be interested in seeing if you can find out whether you can get an idea of what it might take the Nationals to acquire Greinke.

John C.

Sec3MySofa said...

I wonder if the DH thing is a bit of a red herring.
Thought experiment: Dunn refuses (for now) to DH, so no AL team offers much, and no NL team offers more than 3 years.
Now it's Nov. 2013, and he's a free agent again, and his skills have dipped with age, and nobody wants him to play first base. Either he changes his mind and DHs, or he retires.
How is that different from an AL team offering him four years, and telling him after Year Three "Look, Adam, you're not playing in the field next year. You just aren't." Either he changes his mind and DHs, or he retires. If they don't guarantee the fourth year without some incentive (making the 25-man roster, for instance), what's the difference?

Feel Wood said...

The difference is that no AL team is going to give Dunn a guarantee that they'll wait three years before they make him a DH. They won't do it by a handshake agreement, and they definitely won't do it contractually. If he signs with an AL team, it's at his own risk - and he knows it.

natscan reduxit said...

... hello Mark, and Nats friends. Since the conclusion of the WS, I haven't been an active member of this group, but today I wonder if any of you have heard the rumour that suggests Bud Selig is about to resign and that Stan Kasten left the Nats FO in order to take on the job of MLB Commissioner.

... that notion has been making the rounds up here above the forty-ninth, mainly by a sportscaster named Bob McCown of The Fan 590 in Toronto.

... just wondering.

Go Nats, once again.

Sunderland said...

Not that it means anything, but Jeff Passan's Free Agent Tracker is out, and he has Dunn ranked as the #4 free agent.

Sunderland said...

Another note of interest that of course may mean nothing.
Dan Uggla reportedly turned down $48M / 4 years.
He's 5 months younger than Dunn.
He's a below average defender.
He hits home runs in bunches.
He strikes out in bunches.
He maintains a low batting average yet a real good OBP.

He's a 2B that's as similar to Dunn as it gets.

Turned down 4/$48M.

He seems to be prepared to play his last arb eligible year in Florida for about $10M, and be a free agent next year, rather than take the $48M guaranteed to give up his prime free agency opportunity.

Anonymous8 said...

Sunderland, I saw that on Uggla and it is a crazy gamble for Uggla who has many holes in his game. When Uggla gets in a slump, it gets real ugly but he is one of the best batters when a pitcher throws a mistake pitch as he just doesn't miss them.

Still, $48 million is tough to walk from as it still gives him the ability to play after that 4 year deal ends.

Anonymous8 said...

natscan reduxit said...
... I wonder if any of you have heard the rumour that suggests Bud Selig is about to resign and that Stan Kasten left the Nats FO in order to take on the job of MLB Commissioner.


That rumor has been around since the day Kasten resigned from the Nationals. It would seem very possible.

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

Thinking about free agency this morning and here is a team that the Nats could field (in my imagination or if Dan Snyder owned the team) consisting solely of former Expos (asterisks indicate a trade would be necessary):

LF Jason Bay*
CF Grady Sizemore*
RF Vlad Guererro
1B Nick Johnson
2B Jamey Carroll*
SS Orlando Cabrera
3B Maicer Izturis*
C Brian Schnieder*

SP Javier Vazquez
SP Cliff Lee
SP Carl Pavano
RP Chad Durbin
RP Guillermo Mota
RP Miguel Batista
Closer Jon Rauch

Fernando Tatis

Theophilus said...

Assume Dunn truly doesn't want to DH, then his NL options are Colorado, SF, Houston, Pittsburgh and -- Washington. Chicago won't take on a $60MM contract; Arizona is "been there, dunn that;" Milwaukee has its own good hit, no fielder problem; Atlanta has minor leaguers that are ready; everyone else has a first baseman they want to hold onto.

I don't see what the big deal is about his defense. Yeah, he's virtually immobile. So were Ted Kluzewski, Dick Stuart (Dr. Strangeglove) and Ken Harrelson, and they all played in a World Series.

Theophilus said...

To Harper etc.: What kind of masochistic trip are you on? You tryin' to win 55 games? Lee is the only player on that list not covered w/ warts. You want him to do a Steve Carlton/'72 Phillies thing and get 50 percent of the team's victories?

Sunderland said...

Harper_ROY_2012 - nice effort.
Ain't Jose Guillen available too?
Let's get the band back together!

Anonymous said...

Tried to post this last week but failed miserably.
It's from a sermon given 100 years ago by Henry Scott Holland at the funeral of King Edward VII.
My family finds it comforting and it sounds as
if your family might have similar philosophy....

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other,
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

From a sermon given 100 years ago by Henry Scott Holland on the death of King Edward VII. My family finds it comforting and it sounds as if your family has a similar philosophy:

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

@ Sunderland

"Harper_ROY_2012 - nice effort.
Ain't Jose Guillen available too?
Let's get the band back together!"

Guillen was never an Expo, my list consists solely of people who wore the Expos uniform.

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