Thursday, July 22, 2010, 10:44 AM
By Holden Kushner
The last time the Nats had a big bat on the trading blockwas in 2006 when Alfonso Soriano was on his way to slugging a career-high 46home runs while playing in cavernous RFK Stadium. The club's GM at the time wasJim Bowden. Bowden took heavy criticism from fans and media because he settledfor two draft picks in return for Soriano, who finished sixth in the NationalLeague MVP voting despite playing for a last place team with 91 losses.Bowden would go on to draft left-handed pitcher Josh Smokerwith the first pick received for Soriano. Outfielder Michael Burgess was thesecond pick.Smoker is still just 21 years old, but hasnt pitch higherthan A-ball and currently has a 6.69 ERA at Hagerstown. Burgess has played at single-A Potomac for parts of the last 3seasons. He struggles to hit breaking balls and is considered too old to beplaying at that level.
Now back to the Nationals. Im hearing that Rizzos asking priceis as many as four prospects in return for Dunn. Few opposing general managerswould consider parting with even three quality youngsters for what they would getin return.Rizzo has three options while considering what to do withhis first baseman.1. Lower the asking price to one elite prospect and anotherone or two serviceable young players.2. Dont trade Dunn and hope to sign him to an extension inthe offseason.3. (The riskiest option) Let Dunn walk at seasons end andtake the two draft picks theyll be handed. I dont envision the General Manager lowering the askingprice, thus taking the first option out of the mix.Nationals ownership has been reluctant to open their walletsto free agents in the five years theyve owned the franchise. Cross off optionnumber two.Then theres option three. The Nats are at least two-and-a-half years away from being envisioned as a contender, and owning threeslots in the first 50 draft picks would be enticing to Rizzo because it willfurther help him develop a depleted minor league system.If Dunn finishes the season with the Nationals and signswith another team, Rizzo is sure to face the same backlash that Bowden did in2006. Fans wont be able to see immediate return on a commodity that is soughtafter by multiple teams.The White Sox, Yankees and Giants have been most oftenmentioned when discussing a possible deal for Dunn.I dont see a trade on the horizon. I dont think BigDonkey will be a member of this team in 2011.Lets hope for the team and Mike Rizzos sake, at least oneof those draft picks pans out sooner than later. If not, his legacy as general manager of the Nationals would be tarnished.