Adam Dunn gets you to two problems
There’s a lot of chat in the Russell Branyan comments about Adam Dunn. Dunn reminds me of this Jamie Zawinski quote about Perl.
Some people, when confronted with a problem, think â€œI know, I’ll use regular expressions.â€ Now they have two problems.
There’s a whole class of free agent players like this, and the M’s have made too many of these signings in the past. Dunn’s going to get at least a three year, $30m deal, as Dave noted. It’s likely it’ll be more expensive if not longer as well. In return he’ll produce a nice .250/.380/.510 line next year. Hey, it’s the first year of Richie Sexson’s contract! YAYYYY!! Oh wait.
Say you sign Dunn and put him in left field. He’s maybe and probably not a defensive upgrade on Ibanez when the Mariners need at least a competent glove out there and can get outsized benefits by playing a quality defender. And you get a modest offensive boost over Ibanez. In that first year.
All it costs the team is most or nearly all of what remains of this year’s free agent budget.
Say you DH him instead, and he’s somehow willing to accept the position switch. The average DH hit .256/.339/.435 (and that’s a pretty bad year for DHs, too). That line of Dunn’s would put him in the top tier at his position, and he’s be worth ~30 runs over what the M’s got out of the position all season (actually, more than that, I always forget how wretched Vidro was — 30 runs over what any team should have received by playing a random AAA slugger).
Then the next year, and the next — Dunn’s not fast and doesn’t make contact, and those guys age badly. Maybe you escape the collapse on a short enough deal, but the risk’s going to be there. Just like Richie. We can’t be that far away from that lesson that it’s not on everyone’s mind when you look at Dunn.
At 3y/$30m, maybe you can justify paying him to DH. I don’t think you should, because you can spend that money and get a lot more for it. But you can at least say “we’re going to get one or two wins over an average DH every year, and that’s worth it.”
That’s the minimum it’s going to take to get Dunn. Worse players have in recent years received much better deals, and there’s enough money and interested teams that I can easily see him getting 5/$60m. And that seems low on the money as I look at it. It doesn’t take much to get to 5/$70m. We’ve seen that teams don’t value defense properly — after all, Beltre’s widely regarded as a bust and he might have been the best player on the team last year. Why wouldn’t Dunn’s bat get him something at least that lucrative?
At five years you might as well start thinking about the bread and steak sauce you want on the shit sandwich you’re going to be eating in the last years of that deal.
Meanwhile, think about the M’s long-term situation. We don’t know what’s going to happen with Clement. At the very least the team’s going to need to find a way to get him a lot of at-bats while sharing catching duties. Logistically, that’s a lot easier to work out if he’s getting those plate appearances as DH, though as you’d suspect I’d love to see the team do something a lot more complicated with a multi-headed platoon arrangement (which I’ll spare you). If you don’t know if Clement winds up as a first baseman or DH a year from now and you’re looking out for the long-term, why block another potential position for him with a declining player weighed down with a massive long-term contract?
The Mariners need to be looking to hugely upgrade their defense, and that rules out playing Dunn in the field. If they’re not playing him in the field, they can find a lot more value for their DH and spend that money on other free agents who can help them more.
And moreover, if you think the M’s have a bad clubhouse atmosphere now, and you think it’s important to the rebuild to put together a new winning attitude and cohesive team of positive, hard-working players who work together towards a shared goal, you should not be able to so much as hold the thought “The Mariners should sign Adam Dunn” for long without a matter/anti-matter reaction exploding your skull.
Dunn: your life isn’t worth thinking about it for too long.