When I first "Adam Dunn agrees to 4-year, $56 million deal with White Sox" flash across my sports ticker, I was a little disappointed. Many other Nationals fans feel much more disappointed, and it'd be silly to argue that season ticket holders and local DC fans should not be angry. After all, no one told the Cleveland Cavaliers fans not to be angry when LeBron James took his ball to South Beach. However, losing Adam Dunn is no where near as catastrophic as losing a LeBron James. Let me explain why (you know, other than the glaring fact that James is one of the best NBA players, while Dunn hardly qualifies as elite).
First, Adam Dunn was signed by the Washington Nationals as a free agent and has played just two seasons with the franchise. Dunn wasn't drafted by the franchise, isn't a local product and hasn't been here since his career began. Sure, this point isn't very strong, but imagine how hard this would be if it were Ryan Zimmerman signing with another team (aside from the fact that Zimm is an elite player)? Basically, the franchise only invested money in Dunn, it never invested players or draft picks in him (although, perhaps one can argue that now that the Nats will receive 2 compensatory picks). In other words, the loss on Dunn is purely business and the team has only lost his services (and perhaps a few fans). While Dunn was certainly a fan favourite, and his long balls will be missed, his roots in the franchise never sprouted.
Why should this matter? I'm not saying it should, but doesn't it make it a bit easier to heal our wounds?
The biggest counter point is definitely "but we would've gotten better return on Dunn at the trade deadline". When a team tells its ticket holders it plans to win sooner rather than later, netting draft picks that will be spent on players for the 2013/14 season isn't exactly now. I can certainly understand the fans that feel disappointed by the team's decision not to move Dunn. We never really read about "concrete" offers from other ball clubs, but one name casually tossed out there - Daniel Hudson - performed quite well after being traded from the White Sox in 2010. By all appearances, the Nationals might have missed out on a solid return. Again, I ask you to consider that the only investment made by the team into Dunn was money. Many can argue as a season ticket holder, that money is their money, and I can't refute that. However, allow me to reflect on some things further.
As some of you know, I became a Washington Nationals fan when the Montreal Expos were abandoned by Major League Baseball. During the near 20 years of being an Expos fan, I saw big name after big name leave for big dollars and brighter pastures. Maybe I'm just numb to this whole business side of baseball that exists, but I don't feel Adam Dunn is what Vlad Guerrero was, what Larry Walker was, or even what Marquis Grissom was. Players that were brought up in the system, matured into solid ball players, then filtered across the league, was a tough pill to swallow. The economy of the Montreal Expos was a much different landscape than that of the Washington Nationals, and Washington can certainly afford more players than Montreal ever could. I'm not trying to compare this from a financial standpoint, because we all know Washington has money to burn. I'm just saying that this franchise (the Washington baseball franchise) has had many faces depart, that left far more damaging holes. I'm talking about countless fan favourites, that came up with the team, then bolted for bucks. Dunn had a quick 2-year visit, nothing more.
The loss of Adam Dunn's offense is going to hurt, and it's not easy to find such power, but the team loses nothing more than a player and acquires two unkown entities. Would it have been wiser to have landed MLB-ready talent for Dunn when it had the chance? Quite possibly, but during the season Nats fans wanted Dunn to stay and the organization made it clear it would attempt to resign the fan favourite. It didn't work out that way, but I have to believe that the Nationals were serious about resigning Dunn in a reasonable fashion. Yes, the team could've powerplayed the White Sox into unloading some talent for Dunn, but if Rizzo couldn't get what he wanted, he had every right to be stubborn.
Congratulations to Dunn for getting $56 million over 4 years, but many fans agreed during the course of the season, that type of deal wasn't worth signing Dunn to (myself included). Let's not get sour over grapes wedidn't want. If the Nationals intentions were to keep Dunn unless they received ample compensation, they'd attempt to resign him (just not for four years). Maybe we should tip our caps to Chicago's GM for having such a solid poker face, because many have argued that the Nats should've fleeced the Sox with the knowledge they'd sign Dunn to a four-year deal. Did the Nationals ever have such knowledge until hours ago?
The bottom line is that Adam Dunn is no longer a Washington National. As fans that spend hard earned dollars on the franchise, you have every reason to get upset. I'm just trying to bring a little more perspective from my point of view. Losing Dunn for draft picks isn't so terrible, even if the players don't pan out. The only stock the team had in Dunn was a 2-year, $20 million contract. The return on that investment: two first round picks (technically), 76 HRs and 208 RBIs. Personally, I'd say it worked out, and I'd also say there's still plenty of offseason left. I'm not saying Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee is on the horizon, but with the money the Nationals will spend on future players acquired, the team might gain an equitable return despite the loss of Dunn.
In closing, I wish Adam Dunn well with the Chicago White Sox. May he benefit from AL pitching in a hitter friendly stadium, and chase that elusive 500 HR club. Thanks for two years of towering dingers, and giant bubble-gum bubbles, and for protecting our man Zimm in the lineup. The commanding presence in the batter's box was a thing of beauty, you big giant Donkey.