The Washington Nationals should keep Adam Dunn

By Tracee Hamilton
Sunday, July 25, 2010

Should the Nationals trade Adam Dunn? Absolutely not.

Next question.

Oh, all right, let's discuss that one some more, then, since the Nats have until Saturday's trade deadline to entertain offers. In the meantime, they can continue to try to re-sign Dunn. If they're smart, that's exactly what happens. But let's look at their options.

There is no question Dunn is one of the most attractive dishes on the trade buffet this week. It has been widely reported that the White Sox have offered anyone in their minor league system for Dunn as they try to hold off the Tigers and Twins for the AL Central title. The Red Sox and Giants have also been mentioned as interested parties, among others.

However, the baseball world seems to be collectively chiding GM Mike Rizzo for his high asking price for Dunn. The baseball world needs to get over it. This is not a "Going Out of Business" sale. Whether you believe the Nats are close to contention or still a season or two away, the Nats believe they are close. And they are not a desperate team with no hope on the horizon and a bloated roster of highly paid, underachieving veterans. Look elsewhere for a fire sale.

One wag said the Nats were treating Dunn like he was Ryan Howard. Well, to the Nats, he is. He leads the team in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, and is third in walks.

And yes, he's second in the majors in strikeouts (120) and his batting average (.279) isn't great and he has no stolen bases, nor is he likely to. Nobody's perfect.

His numbers this season are better than Howard's, however. Dunn's on-base percentage is .368, to Howard's .361. Howard's slugging percentage is .544, Dunn's is .565. Howard's OPS is .905; Dunn's is .933, third best in the National League. He has one more homer than Howard.

Howard's average is better -- .302 -- and he has more RBI, but he's had more RBI opportunities as well. The Phillies went through a hitting slump this season, but nothing to compare to that of the Nationals.

Of course, that's this season. Howard should end his career with better numbers than Dunn's. For the money he's making, he should end his career with better numbers than a lot of people. But at this moment, Dunn is among the league leaders in a number of categories. You can't expect to pick him up for a bag of balls.

One notion that's been floated -- trade Dunn now, sign him back in the offseason, is a non-starter. He'll be more expensive in the offseason, when every team can bid for his services. And a mercenary move like that would surely kill the loyalty he feels to the franchise.

And he definitely feels that loyalty, at least for now. The one caveat to my "keep him" position is this: If Rizzo is sure that because of the delay in re-signing him, and the incessant trade talk, Dunn has soured on the team, then trade him. If he tests the free agent waters, the undertow of offseason spending will carry him right out of town and on to someone else's roster. So if Dunn is done in D.C., Rizzo should get what he can.

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