Yes you heard me... There is some merit to this. First of all, he's coming off his worst year of the past 3. His value is at bottom right now... probably the lowest it has ever been. His health, knock on wood, has been pretty good overall also.

While he might not get better, the worst I can see him doing is like a .230, 35, 85 year with a .350 OBP, .475 SLG and a .825 OPS. That is not bad production from a young player. While it could be had for 5-7 million from a much older player (on the decline), that production from a 27 yr. old is still worth prolly 7-10M/yr. But we must consider some other things... there's a good chance that Dunn will repeat his 2004 success. .266, 46, 102... .388, .569, .957 Those numbers definately justify 11-13M per year.

What if Dunn does slightly better than 2004 in 2007. A .280, 49, 112, .394, .580, .974 campaign for instance. While there's a better chance he'll merely 2005 or 2006, there's also a good chance that he will at least repeat his 2004 production or do better sometime in his career (possibly soon).

For example if put up that .280, 49, 112 line, imagine his price tag following the season. With Beltran getting 17M/yr. and Beltre (with only one really good season under his belt) getting 13M/yr, a then 27 yr. old who averaged 44 homers over the past 4 years with good OPS and OBP too will easily demand AT LEAST 14M/yr. The contracts that Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano will get are very critical to the Dunn situation; if they both get Beltran-like contracts then Dunn might too if he produces. If Dunn produces he will not only be an essential contributor to our offense, he will also also be so expensive we will either desperately overpay for him to lock him up (and keep our franchise's face) or let him go and offensively suffer tenfold.

There's currently a minimal market for Dunn... If we could offer him for instance a 5-6 yr. deal worth on average 10-12M per season it would be well worth it. Look at Troy Glaus; similar player to Dunn, he hits 35-40 HR when healthy, close to 100 RBI's, OPS in the .850-.900 range and BA in the .250's (slightly less BB's). Dunn is a similar player at a less demanding position; should demand a similar contract.

Say that we trade Dunn for pitching/prospects.... We likewise use the $ saved to sign say a Luis Gonzalez or Moises Alou to 6M a year or so.

Look at our offense in that case:

Freel/Donorfia CF .292, 5, 40, .350, .400, .750
Hatteburg 1B .281, 12, 60, .375, .420, .795
Alou RF .293, 24, 75, .360, .475, .835
Griffey LF* .265, 33, 90, .340, .483, .823
Encarnacion 3B .290, 23, 95, .360, .480, .840
Phillips 2B .270, 15, 70 .330, .435, .765
?????? SS .250, 5, 50, .330, .380, .710
Ross/LaRue/Valentin C .250, 15, 50, .335, .450, .785

* Assuming some sort of a position change.
** just a cheap example of trying to solve the SS/2B problem, I am not advocating for this.

Despite this not being a completely horrible offense, keep some things in mind. First of all I assume everyone is healthy (Griffey and Alou especially). I also assumed most players would repeat their success of last year (Phillips, Hatteburg, Donorfia, Encarnacion etc.). Also I did not project massive decline for Griffey or Alou, which is possible at their ages. Also, Alou is only a short term solution.

Regardless, that offense is possibly the worst in the division and one of the worst in the NL. Although pitching would be improved (by the amt. of $ saved and by the players acquired for Dunn) and slightly above average, the end result still is a ballclub on the 77-83 win plateau.

Lets just say hypothetically that we retain Dunn and he puts up those best case scenario #'s.....

Freel/Donorfia CF .292, 5, 40, .350, .400, .750
Hatteburg 1B .281, 12, 60, .375, .420, .795
Dunn LF .280, 49, 112, .394, .580, .974
Encarnacion 3B .290, 23, 95, .360, .480, .840
Griffey RF* .265, 33, 90, .340, .483, .823
Phillips 2B .270, 15, 70 .330, .435, .765
?????? SS .250, 5, 50, .330, .380, .710
Ross/LaRue/Valentin C .250, 15, 50, .335, .450, .785

Instantly our offense is respectable and slightly above average. With slightly above average pitching (as the offseason focus) and an attempt to solve the SS issue, this ballclub becomes above average and in the 80-90 win plateau.

Also keep in mind the moves of competitors. The Cardinals will likely target another serviceable bat. The Astros may be favorites for Carlos Lee. The Cubs might lose Aramis but make a big push towards some big bats.

Finally just look at the market. The biggest bats, as stated previously (Soriano and Lee) are demanding contracts in the 15-18M.yr. range. A. Ramirez will likely be close to the 13-14M range also. Slightly above average or inconsistent guys should all go in the 7-10M/yr. range (the Gary Matthews Jr., Trot Nixon, Nomar, etc.). A few serviceable guys might be availible in the 5M range, but still... Guys in this range are inconsistent, old+ declining, injury prone, mediocre ballplayers or all of the above.

With Dunn, we at least have some consistency... He will likely repeat this past years numbers and not do significantly worse. There is that chance he will bust through though finally and breakout even more, or even repeat 04'.

Here's to hoping Wayne K. will make the best move for the ballclub.