Stephen Strasburg, Adam Dunn and 2011-2012

Every Nats fan now knows about the worst-case scenario that is Stephen Strasburg's elbow, and that he is likely to require Tommy John surgery. He'll most likely miss the entire 2011 season at the very least. (Jordan Zimmermann did come back from his surgery in 12 months but he still hasn't tested his reconstructed elbow over the long-term.) Thus, the Nats will be without their presumed ace for next season. The team's hopes for moving up in the division as a possible wild-card contender in 2011 have greatly diminished. How does this effect the decision to re-sign Adam Dunn or not?

Dunn has been slumping lately but over the course of a full season, he provides a lot of offense. His presence in the line-up also results in other hitters getting better pitches to hit. Ryan Zimmerman is a more effective hitter with Dunn in the same line-up.

If the Nats sign him to a new deal, it could be for 3 or 4 years. (A 4-yr deal is risky enough so I can't see the Nats going for an even longer deal.) Without Strasburg, the Nats are unlikely to see a major improvement in their record in 2011. And Strasburg may need some time in the first part of 2012 to get adjusted to the rigors of a full MLB season. (He was supposed to do that this year and next year, but then, well, you know.) Strasburg may not become a full-time dominant pitcher until the latter part of 2012 and 2013, assuming he returns from the injury and likely surgery with the same stuff he has now.

Would it be merely a luxury to have Dunn in the line-up for 2011 and 2012 if Strasburg is not available for the entire seasons? If Strasburg comes back strong in 2012, then Dunn could be an important part of a (possible) contending team for 2 or 3 years. Or does the team think that Bryce Harper could be ready to join the team by late 2011 or spring 2012 and take over the role that Dunn now plays in the middle of the line-up?

Before today, I thought the Nats would wait but then finally re-sign Dunn to a new contract. Now, I'm not so sure. 2011 could be yet another rebuilding year with Strasburg being out for the entire season (or most of it). Will Rizzo and Kasten hold onto Dunn? Or just wait for Harper? I don't know. It'll be interesting to hear what you all think. And what the other commentators around the area think about this.

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