While the baseball world oohed and aahed over Adam Dunn(notes) heading to Chicago's South Side on Thursday afternoon, one jilted group was left with its disappointment over the four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox.
But fans of the Washington Nationals weren't alone in their confusion as Dunn headed for greener pastures. Former DC teammate Ryan Zimmerman(notes) buzzed a few reporters to express his reservations about one of the team's few bright spots being allowed to walk away.
"(I'm) disappointed for me," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "I'm very happy for him. Obviously, if he's going to go there, he's going to get a four-year deal, and that's what he deserves. He doesn't get the amount of respect he deserves for what he does every year.
"There's no question he wanted to be here. So it's unfortunate."
That Dunn and the Nationals would probably split this offseason seemed clear when the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on a contract extension last summer. Dunn wanted four years, the Nationals were only giving three and there were more than enough teams willing to overlook his defensive shortcomings. A compromise probably wasn't going to happen.
That still doesn't make it any easier for Zimmerman and the dozens of fans who have remained loyal to the Nationals. Since arriving in the District at the start of 2009, Dunn was seen as a sign that things were getting better and that the franchise's promised contender might be closer to arriving some day. Now — with Stephen Strasburg(notes) in rehab for the next year and Carlos Pena touted as the main option to replace Dunn — those days are over.
From my viewpoint, it's hard to blame Nats fans who feel like their patience has run out. They've been waiting a long time and growing pains aren't easy. You want at least a few entertaining players to watch during all the losing and Dunn's power provided that.
At the same time, without the luxury of a DH, it's hard to imagine that the Nationals could have paid that much money for Dunn to play first base full-time for the next few years and still maintained their flexibility in building toward the future. Dunn was able to get what he wanted by making the jump to the American League and sending the Nats a few high draft picks in return. I think both sides will ultimately win.
As you might expect, the views from Nats Town range from reserved to resigned to resolute:
Jamie Mottram, Mister Irrelevant: "Who's going to replace Big Donkey in the lineup? Probably some other, lesser free agent, like Carlos Pena or Adam LaRoche(notes). Or maybe they'll try an internal, like Mike Morse or Josh Willingham(notes). Are any of those guys going to ease Ryan Zimmerman's pain, though? ... Probably not, but it won't cost them $14 million per through 2014 either. Still, it's too bad the Nats couldn't work something out. Dunn's a fine hitter and a good dude to boot. We'll miss him around these parts."
Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider: "How many players have hit more home runs than Adam Dunn in the last two seasons? Two: Albert Pujols(notes) and Prince Fielder(notes). How many players have played in more games over those seven seasons than Adam Dunn? One: Ichiro Suzuki(notes). How many active players have hit 38 or more homers in seven consecutive seasons? One: Adam Dunn. How do the Nationals go about replacing all that? They can't, at least not with one body."
Ben Goessling, MASN Sports: "They enter next week's winter meetings not only with a restless fan base, but with a franchise player who had openly campaigned for Dunn's return and now is standing on the sidelines, impatiently tapping his foot as the team tries to figure out how to replace Dunn. Ryan Zimmerman's contract runs through 2013, and though he wants to stay in Washington, he also makes no secret of the conditions under which that would occur: namely, that the team starts winning."
Nationals Enquirer: "Good for Adam Dunn. More of the same for the Washington Nationals. You could say the Nats just pissed away the last of their goodwill with fans, but that tank was already pretty much empty ... Hey, but Mike Rizzo frees up more money to not spend, and the Nationals get two draft picks out of the deal (Chicago's first round pick, and a sandwich pick). Can't wait to see how those picks pan out in 2015!"
Chris Needham, Capitol Punishment: "Greetings, children! Welcome! Welcome to the wonderful world of not really caring all that much about the Hometown 9! Look around the league... there are lots of great teams... lots of great players... lots of great games. Be a fan of the game, not of this particular set of rotten uniforms. Stay a while. Lord knows you'll be waiting a while for something good around here."
Dave Nichols, Nats News Network: "There's a lot of hand wringing and hair pulling and teeth gnashing about Ryan Zimmerman's comments to select reporters yesterday in the wake of Dunn's leaving. You know what? Boo hoo. Zimmerman's contract isn't up until after the 2013 season. There are a lot of things that could happen between now and then."