The Washington Nationals are, well, to say the least, non-committal, toward two of their biggest bats in the lineup.
In terms of 1B Adam Dunn, a fan favorite, Nationals President Stan Kasten was non-committal, stating it would take an ‘extraordinary offer’ to pry Dunn from the Nats. The article from Bill Ladson also states the team could pursue Dunn via free agency after the season, should he be traded. One thing this makes pretty clear is, a long term contract extension is likely not in the works for Dunn right now. Wouldn’t you assume the cost of Dunn will rise in the open market than a long term deal right now?
The Nationals options at first base within the system appear limited. 2006 first rounder and ‘supposed’ future first baseman Chris Marrero is producing very well offensively in AA Harrisburg. In 90 games and 332 at bats, Marrero is batting .292 with 12 home runs and 49 runs drive in. The Nationals could also look to AAA Josh Whitesell and current Nat OF Mike Morse.
There is no doubt, based on several fan polls and message board threads, an overwhelming amount of Nationals fans want Dunn resigned. Besides, is Marrero, batting .292 at AA, ready for major league baseball? I have serious, serious doubts about that.
Dunn is a career .252 hitter, but is batting .288 this season and tied for the National League lead with 22 home runs. He also is at the top in slugging with a percentage of .588. He has drive in 59 runs. Dunn hit .267 last year, setting him on pace to eclipse that .250 average in back to back seasons in Washington.
Kasten also confirmed that there have been no contract extension talks with 5thhitter Josh Willingham. The hammer is hitting .281 with 13 doubles, 15 home runs, and 46 runs driven in.
I guess the question I have is, if the nationals are willing to leave both Dunn and Willingham leave via free agency or trade, where will the nationals power come from? What effect will that have on Ryan Zimmerman? Zim hit only 14 homers and drive in 51 runs the year before Dunn arrived. Zim is clearly a better player and hitter when backed by power. Where will it come from?