Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 1:28 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
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The Washington Nationals have offered arbitration to Adam Dunn, according to a club source, ensuring the team will get two draft picks as compensation if the free agent first baseman signs elsewhere this winter.
The way the market is shaping up, though, Dunn may not find any suitors more enticing than the Nationals.
Despite his hope of securing a long-term contract of at least four years, to date no club has been willing to meet those demands. And the list of potential matches appears to be dwindling, especially with today's news that the Detroit Tigers have signed free agent Victor Martinez to a four-year, 50 million deal.
The Tigers had been one of Dunn's top potential landing destinations, but Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski elected instead to go with Martinez, a four-time All-Star catcherfirst basemandesignated hitter who hit .302 with 20 homers and 79 RBI in 127 games for the Boston Red Sox this season.
Martinez, who turns 32 in December, is nearly a year older than Dunn, who turned 31 earlier this month. But his ability to catch as well as his willingness to DH perhaps made him a more attractive candidate than Dunn, who has expressed reluctance to serving as a DH in the American League after spending his entire career in the National League.
There may not, however, be another NL club willing to match the Nationals' standing three-year contract offer to Dunn, who has said he wants to remain in Washington but also is seeking long-term security after being involved in trade rumors each of the last three seasons.
Other teams potentially interested in Dunn include the Chicago White Sox (who are also negotiating to keep veteran first basemanDH Paul Konerko), the Chicago Cubs (who under new ownership are reluctant to significantly increase payroll) and perhaps the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
If Dunn does ultimately sign elsewhere, the Nationals ensured they will be compensated with two draft picks by offering him arbitration before tonight's 11:59 p.m. deadline. Because Dunn is considered a Type A free agent, the Nationals would get a "sandwich" pick between the first two rounds plus another pick in either the first or second round.
If the team that signs Dunn had one of the 15 best records in the majors this season, the Nationals would get that club's first-round pick. If the signing team had one of the 15 worst records, the Nationals would get that club's second-round pick.
Dunn has until November 30 to either accept or decline the arbitration offer. If he accepts (which is highly unlikely) he'd return to Washington on a one-year contract, with his salary determined by an arbitrator. If he declines as expected, the Nationals could still sign him as a free agent or else take some solace knowing they'll get draft pick compensation if he leaves.