Report: Nationals unlikely to re-sign Adam Dunn because of defense (and one scout is insane)

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Reports about contract talks between Adam Dunn and the Nationals have varied so much throughout the season that it’s tough to know what to believe at this point, but today Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com writes that “sources familiar with the team’s thinking” believe “they’re likely to let him walk” as a free agent.
According to Goessling “the team continues to view Dunn’s defense at first base as a sticking point, and is reluctant to give him the four-year deal he prefers because of it.” Goessling quotes an opposing team’s scout as saying that “the only person in the front office who wants to re-sign him is the owner.”
The same scout went on to make the absolutely absurd claim that Dunn’s defense at first base “costs them half a run a game” and “is worse than it looks on paper.” In other words, there’s a person paid to watch and evaluate professional baseball players who thinks Adam Dunn has cost the Nationals about 80 runs with his defense this season. To put that in some context, the Nationals have allowed a grand total of 724 runs this season.
Not only has no first baseman in baseball history ever cost his team anywhere near 80 runs in a season defensively, you can be pretty certain no player at any position has ever been 80 runs below average in a single year. It’s a ridiculous assertion with no basis in reality that gets passed off as something other than worthless by virtue of the presumption that every scout knows what he’s talking about on all things baseball.
If you’re curious, Ultimate Zone Rating pegs Dunn as 1.9 runs below average on defense this season, which ranks eighth-worst among full-time first basemen. Prince Fielder has the worst first baseman UZR at -9.2 runs. Looking at all positions, Carlos Quentin has the worst UZR at 17.6 runs below average, followed by Jonny Gomes at -14.7, Matt Kemp at -14.6, and Carlos Lee at -13.9. In other words, according to UZR the four worst defenders and the worst defensive first baseman have been 70 runs below average this season … combined.
Whether or not the Nationals re-sign Dunn, they should consider themselves lucky not to employ that scout.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.