During spring training Adam Dunn made it clear that he wants to remain with the Nationals long term, but he recently admitted that there’s “nothing going on” with contract extension negotiations.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that the two sides “are seemingly at a momentary standstill” while “Dunn still believes a deal could be struck before the end of the season.”
Complicating matters is that Dunn is off to a 7-for-43 (.163) start with just one homer through 14 games, which will inevitably lead to fans and media members questioning whether the contract situation is hurting his performance. Dunn isn’t having any of that:
That’s not why I’m not hitting the ball like I’m not supposed to, I promise you. I don’t control that. That’s out of my hands. I can only control one thing. I’m not going worry about [stuff] that I can’t control. It’s probably No. 50 on my list of things to worry about right now. I’m not worried about that at all.
Incidentally, if negotiating a contract extension that would no doubt be in excess of $20 million is truly 50th on Dunn’s “list of things to worry about” then he sure does have a ton of important stuff to worry about. I suppose earning $50 million by age 30 will do that to a person.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.