Adam Dunn's contract situation with the Nationals has been a roller coaster ride all season long. Adam Dunn's position with the club has been in flux for literally half the length of his original contract.
Now, Ben Goessling at MASN is reporting that the relationship between the club and their first baseman, will more than likely be over after this season.
According to sources familiar with the team's thinking, they're likely to let him walk.
The team continues to view Dunn's defense at first base as a sticking point, and is reluctant to give him the four-year deal he prefers because of it. Dunn has said he wants to stay in Washington and would be open to a three-year deal, but the feeling from the Nationals does not appear to be mutual.
Goessling reports that the Lerner family still loves Dunn and would like him to be back with the club next year, but that those in charge of baseball decisions are ready to let him walk in favor of a more defense oriented first baseman.
But the people making baseball decisions, like general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman, see Dunn's defense as being untenable, according to sources familiar with the team's thinking.
Dunn has improved defensively at first base this year, cutting down on his errors and trimming his Ultimate Zone Rating to -1.9. But he hasn't been nimble enough around first base to stop hard liners that better fielders might turn into outs, and according to the scout, Dunn's defense is worse than statistics can quantify.
"He costs them half a run a game," the scout said. "You're involved in so many plays - pickoffs, scoops in the dirt, fielding plays - it's worse than it looks on paper."
Personally, I don't buy the the defense argument the front office is trying to make. I understand Dunn is not even an above average first baseman, but I believe his offensive abilities more than make up for that, particularly in ticket sales.
A power first baseman that hits about 40 dingers a year draws more fans than one who prevents some runs being scored by the defense.
I'm not saying good defense isn't important at first base, I'm just saying it might be worth sacrificing if you can keep the offensive talent and excitement Dunn brings to the game. It seems to me that the club doesn't want to spend the $60 million that Goessling speculates it will take to sign Dunn, and they are using his defense at first base as an excuse.
The club is still likely to offer Dunn arbitration, if for nothing else than to get the two first round picks they will be rewarded if Dunn ultimately decides to take a more lucrative offer elsewhere.