We’ve heard a lot of to-and-fro on this subject this season, but with September just around the corner, Adam Dunn tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he is “assuming” he will end the season without a contract extension from the Nationals.
Dunn, who turns 31 in November, is batting .258/.350/.537 with 31 home runs and 79 RBI this season and remains one of the most consistent power hitters in the game. Though his streak of four straight seasons with exactly 40 home runs ended last season, he still managed to slug 38 of them. He is currently on page for 39 bombs. With power at a premium across major league baseball, he should attract a bit more interest than when the Nationals got him for a bargain-basement two-year, $20 million deal before the 2009 season.
The Nationals were resistant to let Dunn go at the trade deadline, despite the White Sox, Angels and Rays showing interest, just to name a few. It could have had something to do with their hope to get a contract extension done, but keep in mind that Dunn also projects to be a Type A free agent this winter. Should the Nats offer Dunn arbitration only to see him sign elsewhere, they would receive that team’s first round pick as well as a supplemental first-round selection.
It’s a pretty good consolation prize, but it will be interesting to see if the Nats have a renewed effort to re-sign him now that Stephen Strasburg figures to be out for the entire 2011 season. The franchise needs to find a way to show their fans that they aren’t just mailing it in next season, even though they essentially just biding time.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.