The Washington Nationals are intent on adding some offensive punch this winter and there are still plenty of options out there. The Nationals fell short on Mark Teixeira and they're not interested in Manny Ramirez, so the two biggest bats can be scratched.
The Nationals have publicly pursued Orlando Hudson and have long been enamored with Adam Dunn. Now comes word that they've put Milton Bradley squarely in their sites and are trying to battle the Chicago Cubs for his services. For their part, the Cubs have ditched some salary and would now have the money to pursue adding Bradley as a free agent. Bradley and Hudson are switch-hitters and Dunn is a left-hande hitter, which would help the Nationals heavily right-handed laden lineup if any of them were to be added. Hudson would also give them a potential lead-off hitter.
The three players all have pluses and minuses associated with them, but let's start with a look at the raw career stats of the three.
Power: The Nationals ranked 12th in the National League in home runs last season and could use an infusion of power. Of the three players, Dunn clearly gives the most bang for the buck in the power department. Bradley is a decent home run hitter, but set a career-high last season, which sometimes looks suspicious when a player who has been living off one-year deals suddenly set a career-high in their contract year. On the other hand, Dunn has hit exactly 40 home runs in each of the last four seasons and has a career-high of 46 set in 2004. Hudson isn't really a factor when it comes to power.
Speed: The truth is that none of these players have great speed. Dunn has the highest stolen base percentage, while Bradley steals more bases per game than either of the other players. The Nationals could use a true lead-off hitter and Hudson would be best-suited for that role, but that's primarily by default.
Intangibles: Hudson is the oldest of the bunch and has the best clubhouse presence of the three. He would provide the Nationals with a clubhouse leader and a player that other players would look up to and respect. The antithesis would be Bradley. While he didn't have issues last season in Texas, he has the reputation for being a distraction to teams that he plays for and can't be counted on to do much for the Nationals in the clubhouse. It doesn't hurt that he's a center fielder and the Nationals are very interested in getting Lastings Milledge out of center field and into a corner outfield spot where they feel he'll fit much better for them. Position wise, Hudson has the advantage of playing at second base, which is a bit of a question mark for the Nationals, although Anderson Hernandez is showing a lot of potential and may turn out to be a quality second baseman. Dunn hasn't had any issues and would give the Nationals a solid, respected player, but he doesn't carry the clubhouse presence that Hudson does. He would give them a first baseman who has found a way to stay healthy and that's something that the Nationals haven't had since before they came to D.C.
Defense: Since all three players play different positions, it's impossible to truly compare them against each other. Dunn has played the outfield, but defensively is a liability in either left or right field and can't play in center.
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Hudson is a definite plus defensively and is the only one of the three to have a better fielding percentage than the league average for his position. Bradley is an adequate center fielder with a fairly strong and accurate arm, while Dunn will do the basics, but can't be counted on to make plays that most other first basemen will make.
The bottom line: Of the three, Bradley is the hottest name right now and the Nationals would likely find themselves in a bidding war with the Chicago Cubs, which would be interesting since the Nationals reportedly have the money to spend since they didn't wind up giving it to Mark Teixeira and the Cubs have shed a bunch of payroll this week. Some teams are scared off by Bradley's temperament, but the Nationals have actually done a good job in blending personalities in their clubhouse and had success with Elijah Dukes last season. While the Nationals technically have both Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young for first base, neither can be counted on to be healthy and if either of them were healthy, it wouldn't be out of the question for Dunn to play in the outfield as long as the Nationals would be satisfied with having to replace him for defensive reasons late in games. Hudson fills a potential need at second base, while Bradley would join a crowded outfield situation, but would give the Nationals a legitimate center fielder to put into the lineup. While it may be tough to swallow Dunn's strikeouts - he's averaged 177 strikeouts over the last five seasons - he would give the Nationals the best overall addition to their offense. The Nationals may prefer to go with Bradley, who would give them more of a get-on-base option than Dunn and still provide some power.