Nationals Journal

By - Adam Kilgore and Gene Wang
Sunday, August 29, 2010; D5

Little headway
on deal for Dunn

With few signs of progress in contract negotiations between the Washington Nationals and first baseman Adam Dunn, it appears likely the sides will not reach a deal before the season ends and Dunn will be heading to free agency.

Dunn leaves negotiations to his representatives and generally avoids updates from them, but he said Friday that nothing is imminent and he is "assuming" he will end the season without a contract extension. The Nationals can offer one-year arbitration to Dunn and will have an exclusive window to negotiate with him until 15 days after the World Series. But players eligible for free agency rarely pass up the chance to test their value.

On Friday, General Manager Mike Rizzo said Stephen Strasburg's impending Tommy John surgery - which will sideline him for at least one year and likely the entire 2011 season - will not affect his plan to build a winning team next year or his pursuit of Dunn. He called Strasburg's surgery and Dunn's potential signing "two independent things."

Rizzo also told MLB Network Radio he and Dunn's agents are in communication and continue to discuss a possible deal. If the Nationals offer Dunn arbitration and he declines and they don't sign him, they will receive two compensatory draft choices.

Though Dunn's first season as a full-time first baseman has been rough defensively, he possesses in spades perhaps the two most valuable skills on the market: power and the ability to reach base. His 32 home runs tie him for second in the National League, and his .537 slugging percentage ranks fourth. His .350 on-base percentage is above the league average but 30 points below his career average.

Rosters set to expand

Starting on Wednesday, Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman will have many more players from whom to choose when Major League Baseball rosters expand. Don't assume, however, Riggleman is in any rush to evaluate promising prospects at the big league level simply because he can.

The Nationals are almost certain to add several pitchers in September, including Garrett Mock, but position players apparently are another story. Riggleman said while he and the front office will consider calling up players from the minors, it's by no means a forgone conclusion that the likes of shortstop Danny Espinosa, for instance, will be playing at Nationals Park this season.

Espinosa is leading Class AA Harrisburg with 18 home runs, including launching three in a game early this month. He is also third on the team with 101 hits.

"Everything we say here goes right down there, so to get into anything other than saying we would give him consideration is, you know, I don't want to step on anybody's hopes," Riggleman said.

- Adam Kilgore and Gene Wang

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