Washington Nationals trade Guzmán, turn focus to Dunn

By Adam Kilgore
Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Washington Nationals traded their all-star closer for their catcher of the future late Thursday night, and they followed up Friday by trading Cristian Guzmán to the Texas Rangers for a pair of Class AA right-handed starting pitchers. Both deals may serve only as a prelude to their most momentous decision before Saturday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline: what to do with first baseman Adam Dunn, this year's premier prize.

After shipping Guzmán, the last remaining continuous Nationals player from the 2005 opening day roster, the Nationals remained intent on either signing Dunn to an extension or trading him. On Friday afternoon, shortly after Guzmán agreed to the Rangers trade, General Manager Mike Rizzo reiterated his vow to trade Dunn on his terms only.

"The closer to the deadline it gets, the more pressure is on the teams to come to me with something that makes sense for me to trade one of the best offensive players in baseball," Rizzo said. "I will come to the price where I originally said I'm going to go, or I won't trade him. The price won't come down."

"There's quite a bit of interest" in Dunn, Rizzo added. "Suffice to say, he's a very popular player right now."

Scouts from the Tampa Bay Rays and Tigers, two teams rumored to be interested in Dunn, were at Nationals Park on Friday night. By likely landing left-handed Lance Berkman in a trade with the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees probably eliminated themselves from the Dunn sweepstakes.

The Chicago White Sox also have interest in Dunn, and their trade Friday afternoon for Arizona Diamondbacks starter Edwin Jackson -- said to be a target of the Nationals -- sparked speculation the Sox would flip Jackson to Washington for Dunn. Dunn, for his part, said "I haven't heard anything" about either a trade or a contract extension.

Asked to guess the chances he's a National when he wakes up Sunday morning, Dunn said: "50-50. Maybe 51-49. I really don't know."

Which way?

"I don't know. You pick."

Dunn clarified several meaningful details. He would not mind serving as a designated hitter if traded to an American League team. "It's only two months," he said. "It's not like if I make this move, it's career-ending."

Dunn declined to speculate as to whether he would be willing to sign with the Nationals this offseason should he get traded and then declare for free agency. "I don't know," Dunn said. "I've got to get traded first. We're still trying to work things out here."

The Nationals have already altered their roster.

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