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The Value Of Not Trading Adam Dunn

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The Nats believe they're close to competing, whether or not you do. And that likely means that Adam Dunn isn't going anywhere.

In the next week, you're going to see a whole lot of horse puckey about how the Nats NEED to do this. Or they NEED to do that. These next few days are going to be a referendum on general manager Mike Rizzo.

As if his legacy is going to be determined on whether or not he can find a home for Adam Dunn -- instead of other things like not signing international free agents. {checks transaction log} Wait. Scratch that.

Whether or not to trade Adam Dunn is a tough decision, with a whole lot of moving parts. It can't be boiled down to a simple "must" or "must not."

It's clear that Rizzo's been interested in keeping him around. The team has been negotiating with his agent, trying to find a fair deal on an extension.  The scuttlebutt last week was that Dunn was looking for something in the range of 4-years, $60 million. I hope that Rizzo was enough of a professional to stifle the laughter before saying "no thanks."

There are a few different end-games here. Let's assume that the team doesn't trade him. What are the advantages then?

For one, they keep Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman happy. A happy Zimmerman is a non-jaded, non-damn-i-can't-wait-to-sign-with-the-Yankees kind of player. Second, a happy Dunn and a happy Zimmerman might mean that Dunn's asking price comes down a smidgen, especially in the few months between now and November, when he'd be able to file for free agency. Third, were they to trade Dunn, especially after he's talked about liking it here and not really wanting to be traded, they'd have probably napalmed those bridges, meaning he wouldn't come back.

So not trading Dunn increases the chances that he's wearing the Curly W next season.

Not trading him also means there's a possibility of arbitration. If the Nats offered arbitration to Dunn, the worst-case scenario would be something like a 1-year, $16 million deal. I'd do that in a heartbeat. The problem with Dunn isn't what he's going to do in 2011, but what he might be doing in 2014 -- pining for the fjords, perhaps?

If they offer and he accepts, great. If they offer and he walks, great, too. ‘Cause when some other lowly team signs Dunn, the Nats net two extra draft picks (likely both among the top 35 or so picks). There's not much downside there, is there?

So if Rizzo does trade him, he's losing the opportunity to re-sign him or add picks. Maybe you can't put a dollar sign on that, but that does have value; it's hardly the "nothing" that some would make it out to be.

Think about what happened with the Alfonso Soriano situation. The Nats got blasted here to there for not trading Soriano and getting "nothing" in return. Well, by not trading him, the Nats got the pick that became Jordan Zimmermann. That's certainly better than had Bowden taken one of the rumored packages that centered on Phil Humber.

Rizzo seems to know this, which is why the stories you're seeing indicate that he's shooting for the moon with these deals. He's asking for a lot not just because Dunn's a pretty damn good player, but because not trading him has value to the Nats too.

If the team is as close as Stan Kasten believes it is, then NOT trading Dunn -- is probably the right move. So while the deadline ticks closer, don't get excited. He's probably not going anywhere.