Adam Dunn expects to become a free agent

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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.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.