Wire Taps: How The Washington Nationals And Adam Dunn Got Here...

The Nats were preparing the media room where interviews were usually held for the introduction of international free agent pitcher Yunesky Maya who had signed that day, so the D.C. press corps was instead assembled inside the Nationals' team chapel in the clubhouse at Nationals Park. Standing and occasionally leaning on a table where the altar would be if services were being held, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo stood before the reporters less than an hour after the passing of the July 31, 2010 Non-Waiver Trade deadline. The question everyone wanted answered then, and the question some are still asking to this day as Adam Dunn's become a free agent and is now reportedly entertaining offers from at least two American League teams, was simple: Why didn't the Nationals trade Dunn?

"The reason that we didn't trade Adam Dunn," Mr. Rizzo responded when asked directly, "is that we never got a deal that we thought was equal or greater value to Adam Dunn."

A reporter followed up, "Did you come close to trading Dunn?"

"We never...we never made a deal," Mr. Rizzo said.

"If to trade Adam Dunn would get us players in return," Rizzo explained further, "...multiple players that were as good or better than Adam Dunn, or the impact of more than Adam Dunn we would've made the deal, but we certainly weren't going to take a step backwards or do a multi-player, a quantity deal for Adam Dunn." 

The rumors at the time had the Nats' trying to trade Dunn to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Edwin Jackson, who'd been acquired by the Sox from the D-Backs', most thought, in anticipation of a deal with Washington. SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote on Twitter (@SI_JonHeyman) that, "[Edwin] Jackson for Dunn is still a possibility. but Nationals want #Chisox to add another player or 2", while FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) wrote that the, ""#WhiteSox [are] still working on Dunn. Would be Jackson-plus."

"I'm not going to comment on any single player," Rizzo said when asked about the reports after the deadline passed, "but there was no player that we asked some team to acquire that we were going to trade Adam Dunn for."

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, in a section of a pre-deadline article entitled, "Time for D-Backs to slow down and think", which was subtitled, "No Dunn Deal", quoted "rival club officials" who said that the Nats' demands for Dunn were "exorbitant":

"...one [rival club official] says the Nats wanted either second baseman Gordon Beckham or right fielder Carlos Quentin from the White Sox."

The White Sox hadn't wanted to include Beckham in a trade for Cliff Lee the previous winter according to SI.com's Jon Heyman and they weren't going to deal him for Dunn, and as Mr. Rosenthal wrote, dealing Quentin didn't make sense for the Sox either, "Dunn is a potential free agent while Quentin is under club control for two more seasons." ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian explained the rationale for the Nats not dealing Dunn in a post-deadline interview on the Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show "First Pitch with Rob Dibble and Jim Memolo" when Mr. Memolo had commented that if Chicago had included Beckham then the Sox would have been able to acquire Dunn:

"... if the White Sox had given them Gordon Beckham, of course, they drive to Chicago and drop [Dunn] off, they pick [Beckham] up immediately, that's ridiculous, there's no way the White Sox are making that trade, obviously, but [RHP] Daniel Hudson is not Gordon Beckham and Edwin Jackson who makes $8.35 million with an ERA over 5.00, he's not Gordon Beckham either, so in the end if those were indeed the best offers for Adam Dunn, than that simply isn't good enough."

Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell has since learned from "sources", as he wrote in an October 7th "Ask Boswell" chat that the Nats' G.M., " that the D.C. GM, "...wanted to trade Dunn and had a deal worked out for Edwin Jackson, who ended up with the White Sox,":

"So, yes, the rumors at the time were correct. However, Kasten and the Lerners didn't want to do the deal and killed it. Partly bad PR. In Kasten's case, he really believed, and still does, that it's crazy not to resign Dunn."

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal had written in early July that, "Stan Kasten says he "loves" Dunn and points out that during his tenure with the Braves, he occasionally re-signed free agents after a season was over," but by the time the 2010 season ended, Kasten had announced his decision to resign from his position as the Nats' team President, and Dunn had become a free agent, reportedly leaving a 3-year deal offer on the table to see what his value was on the market.

The 31-year-old 38-40 HR threat's agent has reportedly talked to the Tigers and the same White Sox who'd tried to acquire him in July. Earlier that month, in a July 11th 2010 article by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore entitled, "Mike Rizzo prefers keeping Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham on the Nationals", the Nats' general manager told the WaPost reporter that he'd prefer, "...to keep both Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham long term," but would, of course, "explore all possibilities." Dunn's still looking for the right long-term deal. MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote tonight in an article entitled, "Willingham harbors no ill will toward Nats", that, "...a baseball source familiar with the Nationals' thinking believes Willingham will most likely be traded before the 2011 season starts." There was reportedly interest in Willingham at the 2010 Trade Deadline as Mr. Rizzo explained to reporters in the Nats' chapel: 

"[Willingham] was a very popular item to discuss. There were serious inquiries for Josh Willingham and we didn't feel that we got the return back to feel good about moving him."

Willingham is eligible for arbitration one more time this winter then he'll become a free agent after the 2011 season if the Nats' don't sign or trade him. The Hammer doesn't have the power Dunn has, but Mr. Rizzo has another decision to make. Or maybe the decision's already been made and a new middle-of-the Nats' order is being constructed for 2012 or '13?

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