Will they or won't they? This is the week that we find out whether the Nationals will deal Adam Dunn as the trade deadline approaches on Saturday. For much of the last month, the odds have gone back-and-forth on where Dunn would finish the 2010 season. For a while, it looked like he was on his way out of town, until word came that the Nationals were instead going to negotiate a long-term deal with their first baseman. Now, comes word that he is again on the block and with a new club in the mix to acquire him.
With Detroit losing Magglio Ordonez for six to eight weeks with a broken ankle, the Tigers are now in the hunt for a big bat to add to their lineup and Dunn certainly fits that description. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski insists though that he's not going to make a trade out of desperation and so far, he's avoided putting Tigers prospects Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner into any trade conversations and has rebuffed other teams attempts to get either of the young stars.
For their part, the Nationals are like almost everybody else and are looking for starting pitching. From the rotation that started the season, only Craig Stammen remains standing, although he did a stretch at Triple-A Syracuse as well this season and hasn't exactly been the Nationals answer to Ubaldo Jimenez. Livan Hernandez and Stephen Strasburg have helped to solidify the rotation and overall, the rotation hasn't been as bad as it could have been this season when you consider all of the issues that they've had to endure, including injuries to Jason Marquis and Garrett Mock. Still, the Nationals need more pitching and are making the right move in asking about young pitchers when clubs call them about dealing Dunn or any other National.
Even with the need for pitching, the Nationals haven't shied away from asking for the best of talent that other clubs have. In fact, had the White Sox been willing to give up infielder Gordon Beckham, Dunn might already be a former National. Like Turner and Oliver in Detroit, Beckham has been a popular request among clubs looking to deal with the White Sox, but GM Kenny Williams is also balking at giving up top talent like Beckham to potentially just rent Dunn for a couple months of the season.
Josh Willingham is also a popular request from other clubs, but again, the Nationals aren't in a hurry to deal Willingham, who they have under team control for another season before he enters free agency. The Nationals insist that they've been negotiating with Dunn since spring training and are also interested in signing Willingham, potentially on a long-term basis.
While the Nationals are trying to acquire starting pitching, it's very possible that they'll deal relief pitching prior to Saturday's deadline. Matt Capps has drawn the interest of a number of teams and reports are that the Nationals are starting to listen, especially with the emergence of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Since being drafted by the Nationals in 2009, Storen has been the closer-of-the-future for Washington and is pitching well for the Nationals.
GM Mike Rizzo has made it known that he hasn't made one phone call to shop Dunn, Willingham or Capps this season, but he has been on the receiving end of a number of phone calls asking if they were available.
So, what's going to happen this week on the Nationals' trade front? Right now, Capps would be the most likely to be dealt. He's having a good season, makes over $3 million this season and will likely get a decent enough raise through arbitration that the Nationals may deem him a little too expensive, especially considering that Storen and Clippard are already on-board. Don't be surprised if you hear a late-week offer being made to Dunn to sign long-term and if he turns it down, a quick turn-around on a deal could be made in the waning hours of the trade period. Even though Willingham is due a nice raise, he would be the least likely of the bunch to go anywhere, but with one asterisk on that thought; if Dunn would sign long-term, Willingham might then become a little pricey and he could be the one to exit in the name of payroll.