Washington Nationals Must Decide: A) Sign Adam Dunn To An Extension? B) Trade Dunn? C) Take Draft Picks?

In the lastest installment of FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal "Full Count" video reports, Mr. Rosenthal says that Nats' first baseman and big middle-of-the-order bat Adam Dunn, "...is on [the Los Angeles Angels'] list of potential targets," to fill the void left by Kendry Morales' season-ending celebratory injury. "The Nationals have talked about extending Dunn's contract, but they have yet to get serious in those discussions," Mr. Rosenthal says. 

DC GM Mike Rizzo told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore recently, as quoted in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Mike Rizzo on the trade deadline, Adam Dunn's contract extension", that though the Nats' need starting pitching first and foremost, they are still discussing a possible extension for the 30-year-old power-hitting first baseman, whose 2-year/$20.0 million dollar deal expires this fall:

"'We've been talking about it since spring training. We're looking at all things, every way to improve the club. We like where Adam is at offensively and defensively. He's a big part of the clubhouse. He's a big part of the middle of the lineup.'"

With the 2010 Trade Deadline just a little over a month away now, the Nationals will have to decide soon whether they'll sign Dunn to an extension, attempt to trade the left-handed-hitting slugger or allow him to walk away and accept the compensation they would receive should he decide to sign elsewhere. MLBTraderumors.com's Tim Dierkes posted an article a week back entitled, "Elias Rankings Update", which featured preliminary free agent status projections, labeling the Nats' first baseman as a potential Type-A free agent, meaning the Nationals, who've committed themselves in the last few years to a ground-up rebuilding of the team's organization ranks, would receive two compensatory Draft picks should they lose the latest in a line of Nats' sluggers that's essentially only two deep with Alfonso Soriano and Dunn alone in having filled the role in the nation's capital since baseball returned to DC. 

Soriano's departure combined with the picks they'd received from Jose Guillen's free agent departure brought the Nats four draft picks in the first two rounds of the '07 Draft which they used to select LHP's Ross Detwiler (with their 1st Round pick) and Josh Smoker with the "sandwich" pick between the 1st and 2nd Round, OF Michael Burgess with the "Guillen-sandwich pick" and RHP Jordan Zimmermann with the second compensatory pick for Alfonso Soriano. Two of those players, Detwiler and Zimmermann have already had an impact at the major leauge level, and, in fact, both are projected to be part of the Nationals' 2011 starting rotation. Michael Burgess was the top ranked outfielder in the Nats' system according to Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's last list, while Josh Smoker, still just 21, has struggled as he's progressed through the lower levels of the organization. 

Will the DC Faithful revolt or turn away if their generation's "Hondo" (Senators' OF Frank Howard) is allowed to leave with only Draft picks received in return? Can the already-offensively-challenged Nats afford to part with Dunn's 38-40/90-100 yearly HR/RBI output? What would the Angels offer in return? When faced with the same situation in the winter of 2006, the Nationals didn't think the offers they were receiving for Soriano were sufficient, with one unnamed official telling MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Nationals still trying to lock up Soriano", that, "'We would lose our jobs [in the future] if we made some of these deals.'"

In the end, just as the Expos' era slugger Vladimir Guerrero had been allowed to leave the organization, the Nationals determined that allowing Alfonso Soriano to leave was the best decision, with then-DC GM Jim Bowden explaining the decision to then-Nats beat writer, the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga, in an article entitled, "Soriano headed to Cubs":

"'We wish Alfonso nothing but success, and we congratulate him on his contract,' Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden said last night. 'We just did not feel it was in the best interest of the team to go that many years and that many dollars. We felt those dollars were better utilized in other ways.'"

What will the Nationals do with Adam Dunn? Taking any personal attachment to the big slugger out of the equation, should the Nationals invest the type of money it will take to retain him in a 30-year-old power hitter? The deal Dunn signed with then-DC GM Jim Bowden is paying Dunn $12M this year in the second-year of a 2-year/$20M dollar deal? What will it take to retain his services? How many years is Adam Dunn looking to sign for? MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling and I discussed the situation with Dunn in a recent interview if you'd like to explore the situation further? But the Nationals themselves don't have too much more time before a decision will have to be made...is it still "In Rizzo We Trust"? 

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