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Dunn and the Nationals talk extension

Bill Ladson tweeted this afternoon that the Nationals are currently in talks with 30-year-old first baseman Adam Dunn about a contract extension.

“1B Adam Dunn and the #Nats are taking about a contract extension.”

Ben Goessling also tweeted, however, that the Nationals are at “stage zero,” in their discussions.

Analysis: Well this is the opposite of what we said they should do. As we explained earlier this week, Dunn, at the age of 30, is entering his decline period and with that his value will go down from where it is now. Furthermore, Dunn is a terrible fielder and the immediate value of his batt is almost completely taken away by the negative impact of his glove.

A look at the numbers (according to FanGraphs)

2009 Batting Value: 35.5
2009 Fielding Value: -36.3
2009 WAR: 1.2

Compare that to 2004 before Dunn was a horrendous fielder (still not a good one though):

2004 Batting Value: 40.4 
2004 Fielding Value:  -2.4
2004 WAR: 5.2

So our choices with Dunn are these; we can marginalize his value by sticking him in the field, or we can capitalize on his value by sending him to the American League. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Dunn, I rather like him, I’m just looking out for the team’s best interest.

One possibility is that the Nationals are signing Dunn to an extension as it may make him more marketable, because the team he would be going to would have control of him for several more years. This is rather unlikely knowing the Nationals history, they are more likely thinking of keeping him to appease the fan base.

So if the Nationals aren’t trading him, let’s talk about contract length. At the age of 30 Dunn will likely start to decline slowly over the next three years, and than rather rapidly after he hits 33. Players of Dunn’s body type usually just don’t have long careers. A look at David Ortiz, Mo Vaughn, and even Willie Stargel McCovey shows that bigger sluggers tend to fade fast (unless of course they have outside help…cough Bonds…cough Palmeiro).  However, is Dunn likely to only sign a three year deal? I’d doubt it, as that would place the first-baseman as a free agent at the age of 33, an undesirable situation for most.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Discuss

-Should the Nationals be looking to trade or extend Adam Dunn?

-What numbers would you like to see in a Dunn extension if it is completed?

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