Like most left-handed hitters Adam Dunn has been much weaker versus left-handed pitchers throughout his career, but he has still been an asset against southpaws with an .810 OPS that is, for instance, higher than the overall career OPS of guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Ivan Rodriguez, Michael Young, Vernon Wells, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, and Torii Hunter.
However, so far this season Dunn has been helpless against left-handed pitching. In fact, STATS Inc. passed along a startling stat: Dunn has yet to get a hit off a lefty in 30 at-bats, striking out 13 times while getting on base three times via walks.
He’s also not clobbering right-handed pitching like he usually does, which is why Dunn has hit just .190 with four homers and a .653 OPS through 40 games of a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox. Despite the 0-for-30 against lefties and overall struggles, manager Ozzie Guillen said yesterday that he’s sticking with Dunn as Chicago’s third-place hitter:
When I bench him, I’m going to bench him for a day off, not because I’m punishing him. What can I do? This guy is very important in our lineup. We’re just waiting for him to hit, and the only way he’s going to hit is to play him.
Dunn’s long swing and prolific strikeout totals perhaps make him more prone to slumps than most hitters his caliber, but Guillen is absolutely right. There’s no reason to overreact to 40 bad games from a 31-year-old hitter who’s topped an .850 OPS in seven straight seasons and has never finished with an OPS below .800.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.