I hesitate to start another Dunn thread, but here it goes anyway.
It seems a common viewpoint here on the old Sun Deck is that Dunn might be a valuable offensive player, but given that he is not a complete player, he is not worth 16-18 Million dollars/year to the Reds. I'm not particularly interested in debating the extent of how good an offensive player he is, or how poor other aspects of his game are, but given that....
a) Dunn is a valuable offensive player
b) He will get at least 16 million/year somewhere
c) The Reds are going to try to compete for a division title in the next 3-4 years
Then how are the Reds going to replace Dunn's offensive contribution over that window of competition? Other then Bruce, who is clearly ticketed to replace Griffey, there are no intriguing in-house bats close to matching Dunn. Valaika is in AA, Frazier is in High A. Neither will be ready next year and relying on them in 2010 is hardly a sure thing either.
I won't repost next year's free agents, but it's safe to say that the class is poor. Even if it weren't, since when has Cincy been able to reliably attract free agent talent without overpaying for it to a greater extent then it will take to retain Dunn?
The other possibility is a trade. Maybe Jocketty pulls off another Edmonds deal, but you can't rely on that. The alternative is using some Minor league depth to add a bat, but are we really willing to trade Frazier and Thompson to add another impact bat? Besides, there are other holes to fill on this team if we are serious about winning in the next few years (catcher, SS and another starting pitcher come to mind). Why create a new hole in the dyke when three other holes remain?
Make no mistake, last year the offense was barely above average. This year it threatens to be below average. Are we going to reap the fruits of a revamped pitching staff (admittedly not a sure thing in and of itself) only to be foiled by a poor offense that could have been, if not prevented, then ameliorated by resigning Dunn?
Maybe a 4 yr/66 Mil contract is overpaying for Dunn without considering the context. However, the Reds currently have Votto, Bruce, EE, Phillips, and Kep wrapped up for our contention window relatively cheaply. The same goes for Bray, Burton, Cueto, and (most importantly) Volquez. This creates a unique situation where we can actually afford Dunn, where in most years that would be impossible. If we let him walk, what good will additional payflex do us exactly if we can't turn it into actual production? Why not overpay for Dunn?