Photo courtesy Bill Scheuerman
Bryce Harper more than held his own in the Arizona Fall League.
DUNN AND ARBITRATION
There are several important dates over the course of the baseball offseason. One of them came Friday when teams had to add players to their 40-man roster to ensure they couldn't be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Another comes tomorrow, when teams must offer arbitration to Type A and Type B free agents to ensure draft-pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere.
The Nationals have only one free agent who fits either category, Adam Dunn, and it's a no-brainer they'll offer the big guy arbitration. That will ensure they get two draft picks as compensation should the Type A player leave. They'll definitely get a "sandwich" pick between the first two rounds. And they'll get either a first-round or a second-round pick depending on which team ends up signing Dunn. If the signing team owns pick 19-33, the Nats will get that club's first-round pick. If the signing team owns pick 1-18, the Nats will get that club's second-round pick.
Pretty straightforward stuff. There is, however, one unlikely (though still potential) wrinkle to this situation: What if Dunn accepts the arbitration offer?
Assuming the Nationals offer him arbitration tomorrow (they'd be crazy not to) Dunn then has until November 30 to either accept or decline the offer. If he declines, the Nats ensure that draft-pick compensation. He could, though, accept the offer and in doing so remain with the Nationals for one more season. The two sides would either have to come to terms on a salary figure or else go to binding arbitration. Either way, Dunn would be a Nat in 2011 and then become a free agent next winter.
Why would Dunn do that? Only if he felt like the market really wasn't going to produce the kind of long-term contract he desires. If, say, no one is willing to give him more than three years and $39 million, he could elect to roll the dice, go to arbitration with the Nats this year, perhaps make $15 million through that process and then take a crack at free agency again next winter.
I still think that would be a foolish move on Dunn's part, because it would be trading away a couple of years of security in exchange for maybe a couple extra million dollars this year. I really believe his No. 1 interest right now isn't the money. It's the long-term security he's never had before in his career. He wants to be locked up for as many years as possible so he doesn't have to go through the annual trade rumor mill yet again. Accepting arbitration from the Nationals would basically put him right back in that situation again next summer.
But it should be noted Dunn does have that option should he so choose.
FINAL FALL LEAGUE STATS
As you know, the Arizona Fall League season wrapped up Saturday with several Nationals prospects helping lead the Scottsdale Scorpions to the league title. Let's look at their final stats for the AFL season.
Bryce Harper: 10 G, .333 AVG, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 13 SO.
Derek Norris: 17 G, .281 AVG, 5 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 11 BB, 18 SO.
Michael Burgess: 19 G, .246 AVG, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 20 SO.
Steve Lombardozzi: 22 G, .291 AVG, 9 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 8 SO.
Sammy Solis: 7 G (6 GS), 2-0, 3.58 ERA, 27.2 IP, 25 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 8 BB, 15 SO.
Cole Kimball: 12 G, 0.69 ERA, 2 SV, 13 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 16 SO.
Adam Carr: 10 G, 2.08 ERA, 1 SV, 13 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO.
Brad Peacock: 9 G, 4.50 ERA, 12 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 17 SO.
As far Harper's overall performance, I think it's safe to say the 18-year-old held his own and came out of the AFL with a better sense of what it takes to succeed as a professional ballplayer.
"I've learned so much," Harper told MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. "Not playing every day, sitting on the bench, I think was a huge experience. Being able to watch the game, seeing what the guys are doing -- to be with these guys who've been in the minor leagues a while, it was a great experience."
THE UPTON TRADE MARKET
Lots of talk over the weekend about the possibility of acquiring Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, whom Arizona is willing to trade for the right package.
Well, let me quash what little hope you might have of the Nationals pulling this blockbuster off. According to a source close to the D'backs, for GM Kevin Towers to trade Upton to Washington, the Nats would probably have to give up four top young players. Like Jordan Zimmermann, Derek Norris, Ian Desmond and Drew Storen.
Now, Mike Rizzo absolutely loves Upton. He did draft the kid No. 1 in the country. But can you really see Rizzo giving up those four players in exchange for one? Maybe if the Nats were one star player away from contending. But we all know they're not. Rizzo isn't going to sacrifice four potential key pieces of the long-term puzzle just for a short-term fix in right field.
SIX YEARS AGO TODAY
Where were you on November 22, 2004? Were you at Union Station for the unveiling of D.C.'s new baseball team's new name and logo?
Wow, where have those six years gone?