Washington Nationals: Trade Deadline Roundtable Part Two - Trade The Hammer, Josh Willingham? Trade Adam Dunn?

(ed. note - "I asked the Federal Baseball.com readers recently, if they'd be interested in participating in a roundtable discussion about what they expected to see happen and what the Washington Nationals should do in these last few days before the July 31, 2009 MLB Trade Deadline. What follows are the transcripts of those discussions, with myself, Ed Chigliak moderating. Now For Part Two...But First, Reintroductions..."):

Ed Chigliak: Quick Roll Call...Nationals' Fan or Old Expos' Fan, I'll Go First??

Ed Chigliak: Old Expos' Fan...

 Mezza: Nats fan.  Personally, I dont think two kinds of blue 'works' on a uniform.

Doghouse: Nats fan! They got me back into baseball after 15+ years away from the game.

John: I'm a Nats fan. I grew up in the area, and I went to Orioles games on occasion, but they never felt like the home team.

Martins: Nats Fan, love the dynamic of the team this year. They are the last place team that is much better than a last place team!

Graysnail: Old Expos fan who somehow ended up where the Nats are.  Not sure how that happened.

Jim: Old Expos fan who longs for the glory days of the early 1990s.

AFTER THE JUMP...

• Ed Chigliak:  Josh Willingham Hasn't Been Hotter, But "Acting" DC GM Mike Rizzo Has Stated That "The Hammer" Is Part Of The Future, Would You Trade Willingham?

• Ed Chigliak: • Is There Any Way Washington Trades Adam Dunn?

Ed Chigliak:  Josh Willingham Hasn't Been Hotter, But "Acting" DC GM Mike Rizzo Has Stated That "The Hammer" Is Part Of The Future, Would You Trade Willingham?

Mezza: Trade em all and let God sort it out!  I like Hammer and I think he's got a future in the game.  But he is playing in a position where there are about 5 players in the organi(z)ation that can play this position.  We simply HAVE to move one of them at trade time or we're in the same position at the start of the season... a lopsided team, with too much in one position...not enough in others.  Hammer is the best chance at genuine prospects.

Doghouse: He's batting 298/410/596 (a teeth-rattling 160 OPS+), and is only four runs below average with the glove in a corner OF spot.  He's having a career season, sitting comfortably in the top ten in the NL in total win value among outfielders (between Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Beltran).  According to fangraphs, that's worth $12M a year--but he's getting a hair under $3M and has two seasons of team control left.  I'd love to see the Hammer in the OF for next couple of seasons, but he's our best shot for getting ML-ready talent.  I wouldn't sell cheap, but I'd cash in the Hammer for the right package of prospects. 

John: Again, no player is off limits, but I'd like to see Grand Slam Willingham stick around. He seems to be a good guy (at least, he behaved himself when he was mic'd for that one game) and could offer leadership for a younger Nationals team. He's 30, making him one of the oldest Nationals I'd like to see the front office keep. He commits fewer errors than Dunn, and his bat is (almost) comparable. He's shown what he can do when given regular at bats, so let's see what he does and if need be, the Nats can dump him next year.

Martins: In my mind, this is the player that has to be dealt. If the idea behind making a good trade is selling high, then dealing Josh Willingham would be the textbook example of a good trade. As of right now, Josh Willingham is slugging an unfathomable .596(!) His career slugging Percentage is .489.This means he is slugging at a clip more than 100 points higher than his career percentage. This cannot continue, it just isn't possible. A .600 slugging percentage is reserved for the very best players in the game, and while Josh Willingham is a nice player, he certainly isn't one of the best. The on base percentage numbers are not as glaring, but they too have shown a significant increase, ( 42 points, from .368 in his career, to .410 this year). Coming into this season, Josh had 1,422 ABs under his belt, so it's not as though this is a conclusion drawn based on a small sample of numbers. We know what kind of player Josh Willingham is, and this isn't it. Sell him high and get the pitching this team desperately needs.

Graysnail: Absolutely.  Willingham's 29, under team control for a couple more seasons, and is having his best season to boot.  There's a heck of a lot of value in his skillset right now, and unloading him would be a pretty slick move.  Remember that the Nats have Elijah Dukes killing time in AAA until a roster spot gets freed up, so while there would be a dropoff, it'd be comparatively slight when you take into account Willingham may slide back.  He's turned into a legitimate player, and as such should fetch a decent, but not great, haul in a trade.

 

The problems with Willingham are twofold: A) everyone knows it's a career year; B) his defense will regress.  I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't quite fetch what we'd expect because of that if he moved.

Jim: I'll echo everyone else's comments a bit.  With the exception of a 24-year-old All-Star third baseman and the handful of pitchers who are under 25 and not even arbitration eligible, everyone is available.  The most important thing to realize is that, while the media has been trying to play Willingham up as a nice "cheap bench" bat available on the trade market, his production and contract status (under control for two more seasons.  Likely to remain under $5 million in 2010) combine to make him the most expensive trade chip that the Nationals have.... by a significant margin!  Basically, my stance is that if they can trade him and get above market value (the huge prospect haul hoped for above), then Rizzo should pull the trigger.  If other GMs aren't willing to pay for the fact that he's cost-controlled for two more seasons and pay like this isn't a complete outlier of a season, the Nats should hold onto him and continue to explore the markets with Dunn and Johnson more heavily.

 

Ed Chigliak: Is There Any Way Washington Trades Adam Dunn?

Mezza: YES!  That sly dog Rizzo was just playing the old 'we wont trade our big hitter' game.  Dont be fooled.  Should the Giants line up a couple of stud pitchers (or a great position players), Rizzo will pull the trigger quicker than an Austin Kearns at bat.

Doghouse:  Dunn is not like a box of chocolates, but the prospects we get in return will be.  We'll be giving up 40/100 (and -2 wins with the glove) for ???  I think the "???" could be pretty exciting, especially from an AL team.  278/405/554 with 25 long balls and 73 RBIs so far (plus TEH SP33D GAME!)?  Heck yeah, man!  That's gotta be worth something good, and I think Rizzo takes it if he gets an offer. Roll the dice!

John: I'm not sure if it'll actually happen, but I'd like to see Dunn dealt. Like Mezza, I'm hoping that Rizzo was bluffing with that whole "he's off limits thing," and like Doghouse, I think what the Nats could get in return (particularly from an AL team) is exciting. I could see him traded for a few younger fielders -- it's not like there's a shortage of capable OF players on the Nationals roster right now. They may not quite bring the bat that Dunn does, but his bat is why he'd be traded. Dunn belongs in the AL.

Martins: Absolutely not. The reason is a succinct and simple one. There is no way to replace what you lose in an Adam Dunn. Name me another hitter in the game who will hit you 40 homeruns a year, every year. Give up? Me too. Know why? There isn't one. With home runs come RBI, and that equals run production. Now, don't get me wrong, his defense is definitely a problem. But he clearly is a hard working guy, and I believe he will improve his defense, at least to the point where you can live with it. (I think his offensive prowess outweighs his defensive struggles, but I know some of you don't) Remember, when talking trades, you have to take into account not only what the player gives you, but what the player can potentially give someone else. If you trade Adam Dunn to a contender right now he helps clinch a playoff birth, that's the bottom line. Whether or not you believe Adam Dunn helps your team, the fact of the matter is you will not get equal value for his bat. It's a no win trade.

Graysnail: Hey, why not?  His contract's not god-awful, and his skill set isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  He's doing right about what you'd expect from him, maybe a little better, so an AL team with a need for a power bat could look his way.  Were Bavasi still in Seattle, I'd be wanting Rizzo to pull a Cable Guy on his voicemail; unfortunately, I don't think his skillset translates there, Seattle's falling out of contention, the new front office values defense, and they've already got one guy who can't play the field.  As it is, maybe a team like the Twins takes a shot.

 

Bonus: Dunn may actually bring another quality SP prospect.  Aside from Willingham, I don't think anyone else on this team could do that.

Jim: While Willingham's contract status combined with his production should be what warrants the best (actual) return, the perceptions of the media as well as the name often fetch quite a price as well.  Forget the glove, and forget the mention that Dunn is having a very good season.  That's not true.  Dunn is having the best season with the bat that he's ever had.  Don't believe me?

 

His career line is .249/.383/.521.  His career best batting average was .266 (2004... the only season that compares to his current 2009 line).  His career best OBP is .400 (his first full season in 2002).  His career best slugging percentage (by 15 points) is .569 (also 2004).  Look at 2009, though.  Dunn's current .280 batting average is 14 points better than his career best.  His current .410 OBP is ten points better than his career best.  His current .562 Slugging Percentage is just off the pace.  His .972 OPS is sixteen points higher than his best season.  He's having a career year with the bat!

 

All of this adds up to him probably having more perceived value than Willingham on the trade market, though I'm convinced that Willingham has more actual value.  If Rizzo can get the package that his perceived value demands (or even his actual value), I think he has to take it.  My preference would be to see the team trade both Dunn (highest perceived value) and Johnson (not at peak value, but not of much use going forward.  May fetch about what most teams think they can trade for Willingham) and hold onto the Hammer.

End Part Two. 

 

• Round Table Part Three of Three: Joe Beimel? Willie Harris? "Acting" DC GM Mike Rizzo's Future? Strasburg Talk? @ 12:00 pm EST. 

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