As the title of his article says, there have been, "No big free-agency moves, just plenty of predictions so far", and CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler wrote yesterday that one of the top storylines this winter will be whether or not the Nats' big middle-of-the-order bat Adam Dunn will allow himself to be put out to pasture as a DH in the AL. Mr. Knobler's sources join the chorus of voices saying Dunn really prefers to stay on the field and in the National League. Mr. Knobler says an anonymous "AL executive" he spoke to a few months back says that, "...his guess was that Dunn will consider AL teams at least long enough to try to use them as leverage, but that he would eventually stick in the more comfortable (and DH-less) National League." Unless another team emerges as a potential destination for Dunn, that would lead one to believe, if published reports are accurate, that the Chicago Cubs will have to spend big or Dunn and his agent will have to settle for what Washington's offering once again...if he doesn't go for a bigger deal in the American League.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote Friday in an article entitled, "Nats' Willingham willing to play first base", that if the Nats can't re-sign Dunn or find a suitable replacement on the market, "...look for them to put outfielder Josh Willingham at the position." Willingham, who'll turn 32 before the 2011 campaign begins, was slowed last year by a knee injury which eventually required surgery, ending his season, but before that happened the Hammer was on his way to one of his best seasons offensively, with the .225/.314/.326 stretch while he was injured doing little to diminish the .268/.389/.459 line he ended up with after a .281/.411/.544 first-half. Mr. Ladson says Willingham, who's played 71 games at first as a pro, (though only 3 of them have been in the Majors), says he's, "...played enough first base in my career to feel comfortable over there," and though he hasn't, "...done that in a long time," (ed. note - " Long time = 1 game in '09, 2 in '06 and before that 17 games in 2004), Willingham tells Mr. Ladson, "...I feel if I have Spring Training to work on it, I should be fine over there."
Speaking of Willingham...in case you missed the quick mention this past Thursday which I noted on the Federal Baseball (@federalbaseball) Twitter feed, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote in an article entitled, "A's strike first in MLB offseason", that the former Marlin and current Nats' outfielder was a target for Oakland before they made a deal with the Kansas City Royals for David DeJesus, who'd been a target since earlier this year:
"[A's GM Billy] Beane in recent days also was after Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham, according to a major-league source."
The Athletics eventually agreed on a deal that sent 24-year-old '05 3rd Round pick Vin Mazzaro, (who's (10-17) with a 4.72 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 5.8 K/9 41 games and 35 starts into his major league career), and 22-going on 23-year-old '09 3rd Round pick LHP Justin Marks, (who pitched for two Class-A affiliates for the A's this season, striking out 7.8 K/9 and walking 3.7 BB/9 in 25 G, 24 GS and 129.1 IP) to Kansas City for the soon-to-be 31-year-old DeJesus, who put up a .318/.384/.443 slash line in 91 games in 2010 before a right thumb injury ended his season. Should D.C. GM Mike Rizzo have accepted a similar deal for Willingham? Mr. Rosenthal quotes three anonymous GM's in the article who offer their opinions on what each team received:
"GM 1: "Good deal for both teams. Fits both clubs. We’re OK on Mazzaro. Back-end starter."
GM 2: "Fair deal. Like, don’t love Mazzaro. Decent chance draft picks, too (for the A’s if DeJesus departs as a free agent after next season)."
GM 3: "(I’m) not a big Mazzaro guy, and Marks does nothing for me. I like it for Oakland. Would have thought Kansas City could have gotten a better package."
Wonder what sort of offers the Nats and D.C. GM Mike Rizzo will get for Josh Willingham at the deadline this year if he's able to continue to hit like he did this past season on his surgically-repaired knee? Something tells me Rizzo and the Nationals' Front Office will opt for picks again if what the Royals got for DeJesus is the only kind of offer that's out there...