Zuckerman: Dunn Declines Nats' Arbitration Offer

Zuckerman: Dunn Declines Nats' Arbitration Offer
December 1, 2010, 4:46 am
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 11:45 p.m.

By Mark ZuckermanCSNwashington.com

Adam Dunn declined the Nationals' arbitration offer tonight, a procedural move that doesn't prevent the free agent first baseman from re-signing with Washington but does ensure the club will get draft pick compensation if he leaves.

The Nationals had submitted the arbitration offer last week. Dunn, like all current free agents, had until 11:59 p.m. tonight to either accept or decline the offer. Had he accepted, Dunn would have returned to Washington on a one-year contract, with an independent arbitrator determining his 2011 salary.

Dunn's decision to decline the offer guarantees the Nationals compensation if he ultimately signs with another team. Because the 31-year-old is classified as a Type A free agent, the Nationals will get two 2011 draft picks as compensation. They'll get a "sandwich" pick between the first two rounds, and either a first-round or a second-round pick depending on which club signs Dunn.

The market for Dunn, who has averaged 40 homers and 101 RBI each of the last seven seasons, hasn't been as strong as the free agent originally hoped. The Detroit Tigers, expected to be one of his top pursuers, elected instead to sign Victor Martinez last week. The Chicago Cubs, another projected landing spot, are reportedly not willing to significantly increase payroll this winter. The Chicago White Sox, meanwhile, prefer to re-sign Paul Konerko.

That could ultimately leave the Nationals as Dunn's best option, unless another club steps forward with the four-year contract the slugger seeks. General manager Mike Rizzo has had a standing three-year offer on the table for months, though he has also been exploring cheaper alternatives at first base including Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche.