Nationals Baseball: Would Dunn screw Rizzo? Could Dunn screw Rizzo?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Would Dunn screw Rizzo? Could Dunn screw Rizzo?

The Nats have offered Dunn arbitration, the assumption being that he will decline arbitration and sign somewhere else and because he is a Type A player the Nats will pick up a couple comp draft slots for their trouble. It's a very safe assumption. Dunn wants a long term deal, and arbitration only promises a one-year contract. It would also be unwise of his to go through arbitration, he's on the wrong side of 30 now and he had a fantastic year last year. Playing another year to see what he can get is more likely to lower the value of his next contract, rather than raise it. He doesn't want arbitration and he doesn't need arbitration.

Still, I can't help wondering what the situation would be if Dunn shocked the Natsmosphere and accepted arbitration. I guess it IS still possible. The Tigers signed V-Mart. The White Sox went ahead and offered arbitration to Paul Konerko, who as a long time White Sock, you have to figure is more likely than Dunn to agree to it at the very least to re-open contract negotiations. Plus it makes it less likely a team will grab Konerko which makes it less likely that a spot will open up for Dunn. Of course I wouldn't put it past the WhiteSox to bring back Konerko AND sign Dunn.* The Cubs are still in the hunt and he would be a pretty nice fit there too. Not to mention outside of Thome and Ortiz, who both could crash at any moment, and the surprising Luke Scott, Dunn would be a big improvement for every other AL team at DH.

*That seems dumb but Kenny Williams is smarter than you think. If 2/3rds the league are quixotically aiming for the same goal - super good, super cheap teams somewhere 3+ years down the road - that means there is going to always be a nice surplus of good but somewhat older talent available. If you have some cash to play around with you can build a perennial winner from these neglected souls. There's a reason he's GM'd the team to only two losing seasons in 10 years.

If Dunn did go for arbitration they might be able to get him back with whatever 3 year deal they offered him before. Kind of doubt it though. If he only accepts the one-year arbitation the Nats would have around $15 mill invested in Dunn for next season, plus that roster spot at first locked up. It shouldn't matter - the Nats could still spend money and get a pitcher, if not a pitcher and a bat. But, there would be no good reason for Rizzo to go after his BFF Carlos Pena, and 15 million is a lot of money. Maybe there is a cap we haven't heard about and that Carlos Pena bargain Rizzo is expecting is what's allowing him to test the free agent pitcher waters. If that's the case then it would at least create assumed friction between the front office and a fairly popular player. In short, it would be great off-season blogger fodder.

It's not going to happpen, though. Right? Right.


Positively Half St. said...

It sure seems like nothing's going to happen very quickly, in any case. If Rizzo and Boras are so high on Pena, I am going to have to trust them on that, because I don't see it.

Farid Rushdi said...

Can't remember what year it was, but it was all but guaranteed that Braves' star Greg Maddux was going to leave Atlanta via free agency and the Braves offered arbitration to get the draft picks.

Surprise! Maddux accepted and pitched one more year for the Braves.

No one expected that move, and who knows, Dunn could cross us all up too.

Good article.

Harper said...

+1/2st - Well the Nats can't sign Pena (or "whoever they could possibly want") until Dunn makes his decision and he's probably going to take his time so ya be prepared to wait a few weeks at least.

Farid - Ah yes = looked it up, it was 2002. The difference was Maddux being 36 and the Braves needing to cut salary. For Maddux coming back wasn't a terrible idea, but it killed the Braves (they had to trade Millwood). For Dunn it is a pretty bad idea but the Nats could (could) work around it because they aren't in sale mode.

Anonymous said...

I have heard Dunn say in interviews multiple times on tv that he really enjoys playing in DC and would be very interested in signing a deal with them. Unless someone offers him a great multi-year deal I think he'll stay, even with a one year offer. And I really don't think anyones going to offer anything 'great enough' to warrant leaving. Maybe as a Nats fan Im biased but I hope he stays and they go after some solid pitching until Strausburg returns and Harper is ready for big league greatness...
I just wish he'd stay or go already!

Harper said...

Anon - I don't know. He can only hurt his chances of getting a long term deal by signing this one year deal. He could get injured, or have a bad year offensively (or a terrible defensively). He's really at peak now. I don't know if he'll get that 4th year, but I bet he'll get a better 3yr deal from some other team. The question is whether he'll take a few more millions for the sake of doing it.

(If he liked the Nats so much - you have to wonder what were the terms of the 3-yr deal they offered him. Is one more year worth moving to a new city if he was offered a fair deal?)

Wally said...

Hi Harper - I hope that you enjoyed Turkey Day. We did the annual trek up I 95 to NJ to see my family. 2 kids and all that Obama-related stimulus construction made for a long haul, but otherwise a good time. Anyway, a couple thoughts to get your reaction to.

I read somewhere that Rizzo asks for 'pitching, pitching, pitching' in every trade. I think this was not refering to the much-hyped 'search for a #1 starter' but just normal trade chatter. Given his public comments, it seems likely to be true. My Q - does that make sense to you? Do you really think that he can get someone materially better in a trade than, say, Detwiler, Maya, Lannan, Solis, et al for people like the Hammer or NoMo? I am not in love with any of those guys, but it just doesn't seem like the market is offering anything better for what the Nats presumably can offer. Wouldn't he have more luck trying to improve the holes in the lineup, maybe go after Gaby Sanchez, Seth Smith, Matt Joyce kind of guys?

The other is more of a comment - I came in to this offseason wanting them to add big pieces, but I have flipped and think that they should trade the hammer and some of these low cost, spare starters mentioned earlier and rebuild correctly. Including to consider trading RZimm if they get bowled over (wouldn't you have to consider something like Buckholz, Ellsbury, Rizzo plus 2lower level prospects)? If you were Rizzo, taking into account fan base reaction, which way would you go? The worst way is the Dunn way - just let them leave and gets picks, I think. Trade them or add to them.

Harper said...

Wally - hope you didn't drive on Wed or Sunday. I always plan my Thanskgivings for Tues-Sat affairs, just works better that way.

'pitching x 3' is a philosophy that is based on the idea that you can get good hitting cheap, you can't get good pitching cheap. Therefore you need to find your own cheap pitching. So you flood your minors with prospects drafted or through deals and worry about bats on the free agent market. It's not that he can get something better than Maya, Detwiler, ZNN, but he can increase the chances he gets someone really good if he's looking at 5 or 6 B+ prospects rather than 3 or 4. The flipside is that its easier to develop your own bats so some think that a team should concentrate on getting young hitters, and pay for the pitching. Usually the market dictates how teams go in any given year, but some teams are committed to one way or the other. I've got no issue with the Nats being committed to the pitching side as long as they follow up. They have to be be willing to spend cash on the bats and they have to better than they have been at IDing the values in the available offensive players. They can't look to flood young/cheap in all areas - that doesn't work out 9 times out of 10.

I'd be fine with them rebuilding but can they get away with that again in front of a dying fanbase? How long do the Nats fans have to wait to see real progress. They did try to go young and better post-Soriano. It's gotten them what? It'll be a hard sell (but I wouldn't be against it. I think halfway through this year when they see how Strasburg and Harper are progressing, and how ZNN recovered, they'll know which way to go)

Trading Zimmerman is real tough. The kid is a legit star and the team's face. You can't make a deal even on a good bet. You have to be sure you are getting back guys that'll be good right away. Plus trading Zimmerman kills the 2013 deadline idea. That may not be bad but I think it is better if teams have a firm idea of when they NEED to be good by, rather than a nebulous sometime in the future.

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