Expect Dunn's big bat to leave Cincinnati
11:33 AM EDT, May 14, 2008
Since the start of the 2004 season - the first year there was any sort of testing with discipline for illegal performance-enhancing drugs, for the sake of conversation - David Ortiz leads all major leaguers with 184 home runs.
Then comes Alex Rodriguez with 177, and Albert Pujols with 176.
You can bet $46 million (Kei Igawa cheap shot alert) that none of that trio will be traded in 2008. But you shouldn't bet $46 that number four on the list will remain with his team.
"It's going to happen every year. It's happened every year," said Adam Dunn, who has gone deep 172 times in the past four seasons and change (thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau for the info). "I'm used to it by now. It gets old, and I hate it, but you can't do anything about it. So I just deal with it."
Dunn, the Reds slugger, is talking about his annual involvement in trade discussions. As he pointed out, he has been involved with them since before he was in the big leagues, as the Mariners wanted him in return for Ken Griffey Jr. back in the 1999-2000 offseason.
All that chatter has produced no action, but this year, you'd have to bet on something happening. And given Dunn's power numbers - consider that the distant number five on this list is Paul Konerko, with 152 - the 28-year-old should be the highest-impact bat available to contending teams.
New Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has been non-committal in reports, as well he should be. It's still early, and the Reds have just recorded two straight victories over the National League East-leading Marlins. But the bet here is, come August 1, Dunn will be a Blue Jay, or an Indian, or maybe even a Met. But not a Red.
1. The Reds, while showing hope for the future with youngsters like pitchers Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez and outfielders Jay Bruce (currently in the minors) and outfielder Joey Votto, simply aren't very good. They're far worse than the Cubs, and perhaps even the Cardinals and Astros.
2. Jocketty, unlike his predecessor Wayne Krivsky, has room for error with Cincinnati owner Bob Castellini. Jocketty can take a step back this year, trade away his veterans for prospects and focus on next season and beyond.
3. It wouldn't make sense for the Reds to re-sign Dunn, who is eligible for free agency this coming winter, because of those young outfielders. So if they're not going to make a playoff run, they might as well unload him and get some inventory in return.
For Dunn, who came up to the Reds in 2001 and has suffered through seven straight losing seasons, it's a mixed sensation. He's anxious to go to a team that competes. Yet he sees that the Reds are headed in that direction.
"That's kind of one of those things where I've been through the bad times, now it's kind of on the rise," he said. "I'm hoping to maybe get a chance to stay here, hang out and watch all of these young guys develop. This team is going to be good for a while. I just don't know if I'm going to be here with them."
A team acquiring Dunn won't give up a staggering package of talent for him, since he'll be a mere half-season rental. Yet keep in mind that the Rangers did nicely last July in unloading short-term rentals Eric Gagne (to Boston, for Engel Beltre, Kason Gabbard and David Murphy) and Kenny Lofton (to Cleveland, for highly regarded minor-league catcher Max Ramirez).
The early returns on the season indicate even more parity, which is great for the industry but not so great for trade-discussion junkies.
After Dunn, the pickings could be slim on the trade front.
Griffey is a unique entity because he controls his own destiny with his right to refuse any trade. If teams have to exercise Griffey's $16.5 million option for 2009 in order for him to green-light a trade, then it's hard to see him going anywhere. Especially since he's off to such a dreadful start, at age 38.
The Pirates have Xavier Nady, yet he's under team control through next year, so there's not a compelling reason to deal him.
Colorado, if it gives up on this year, could deal third baseman Garrett Atkins and hand the job over to Ian Stewart.
And Lofton is still out there, for any team that wants an energy boost in the outfield.
It would be surprising if we saw a trade approaching last year's significant Mark Teixiera-to-Atlanta deal