Anybody Want a Slugging First Baseman?


For the second entry in our series of free agent signings that we would love but nobody really expects the Dodgers to bid on is possibly the least likely of the four, Adam Dunn.  We've had some fun on this blog in the past discussing who the ultimate Ned guy's are and Adam Dunn is surely the anti-Ned.  The beastly slugger who strikes out a ton and has a tendency to play sideshow defense in the outfield was not even mentioned as one of the token targets in the 2008 off-season when the team was playing their waiting game with Manny Ramirez.  At the time, Colletti had mentioned guys like Garret Anderson and Hideki Matsui as possible free agent candidates in the case that the team was unable to agree to terms with Ramirez.  Dunn was ignored, even though the would be 29 year old Dunn was still on the market.  Washington was able to capitalize on the lack of interest for Dunn by signing him to a 2 year deal and Dunn responded by posting a wOBA of .394 and .379 respectively.

The Good:

Adam Dunn is a machine at the plate. Dunn has posted a career wOBA of .384 (in 10 seasons) which has been built on both power and plate discipline.  During his stay in Washington, Dunn posted an OPS+ of 144 and 138 respectively (which would have been second best on the Dodgers after Manny.)  In the past two seasons in Washington, Dunn hit 38 home runs in each year which comes after a fairly remarkable (if odd and fairly meaningless coincidence) line where Dunn hit exactly 40 home runs for the four seasons prior.  In terms of peripherals, Dunn has posted a career BB% of 16.3% and a career ISO of .271. 

The Bad:

Not as though this isn't already factored into the statistics above, but Adam Dunn strikes out a whole lot.  For his career his K% is 32.8% which actually went up slightly to 35.7% last season.  In addition to his K problem, Dunn has had his issues with the glove. His career UZR is dreadful and has a lot of large negative numbers.   On the bright side, Dunn was actually passable last season at <3.1> which would ordinarly be meaningless but it is the only time Dunn was told to play first base and only first base, so perhaps Dunn can be a capable first baseman. 

Contract:

Dunn is coming off of a very affordable 2 year $20MM contract and will surely be interested in capitalizing on his continued success while he is still young enough to command his last big contract.  In terms of what Dunn will likely be looking for, I asked resident expert Eric Stephen for an idea.

For some reason I have had in my head 3 / $36m for Dunn all along, although to be honest I haven't done much research. I think he is hurt by the thought that he is really a DH, and of course most people's aversion to strikeouts.

Paul Konerko was coming off 41 HR / 117 RBI and 40/100 in 2004-2005, and signed for 5/$60m. That's probably too far back for any sort of reasonable comp though. That same offseason, Derrek Lee was coming off a should-be-MVP season (1.080 OPS, 174 OPS+, 50 doubles, 46 home runs), and signed for 5/$65m. Both Konerko and Lee were heading into their age 30 season; Dunn will be 31 next year.

My opinion:

While I realize that I have a better chance of being signed by Ned than Adam Dunn, I can't help but think signing a 3 year deal as Eric outlined above is the perfect option.  Dunn allows the Dodgers to actively shop or simply non-tender James Loney who is estimated to make $4.5MM next year. While I'm not sure there is much of a market for Loney, simply non-tendering Loney and replacing him with Dunn would be a huge boost to the Dodger offense, and the difference in defense I find quite exaggerated.  Additionally, the three other free agents being discussed in this series are better players and simply better fits (especially considering that starting in LF next year could be Scott Podsednik or a platoon of Xavier Paul and Trent Oeltjen), but will come with a much larger price tag.  Signing Dunn to a contract outlined above with upgrade the current roster and will also (hopefully) allow the Dodgers the financial flexibility to offer contract extensions to either Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley or both.  Assuming optimistically that trading James Loney brings in a 5th starter, the addition of Dunn and departure of Loney will have allowed for a more complete team for the next few seasons. 

Adam Dunn is the best free agent option for this team. 

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