Sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed that Adam Dunn is signing a 4-year, $56 million deal that will move the big lefty to the American League for the first time in his 10-season career. Dunn played 158 games for the NL Washington Nationals last year, batting .260 with 38 homeruns and 103 RBI.
Speculation is that Chicago will continue to attempt to re-sign veteran 1B Paul Konerko, who finished 5th in AL MVP voting this year. If they are successful the poor-fielding Dunn will probably play most of his games at DH, where the White Sox were very unproductive last year, managing only 18 HR at that position. Although Dunn has played over 1,000 games in the outfield, the 30 year-old Dunn is a notoriously poor fielder, and everything points to him being Chicago’s starting DH next season.
Dunn has been a consistent home run hitter throughout his career, hitting at least 38 HR in his last 7 seasons between the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals. However, he strikes out at a historically high rate (over 1 K a game), and doesn’t hit the ball for average (he’s a career .250 hitter). Because of his poor stats in other areas, Dunn has only made the All-Star team once (2002), and has never finished higher than 21st in MVP voting (2010).
So is this a good signing or not? As with any signing, the future will tell all, but this really seems like the perfect fit for Dunn. He’s moving to the AL, where he can play DH and not have to worry about fielding the ball. He can concentrate all of his talent, experience, and 6’6″, 285 lb frame on hitting the baseball out of the park. He’s the big lefty bat the White Sox have been missing since they let Jim Thome go, and if Chicago can re-sign Paul Konerko they will have a homerun duo capable of hitting 80+ HR between them. Another plus is that Dunn is historically a very injury-free player, having played in at least 152 games in 8 of his last 9 seasons, and playing DH won’t hurt his chances at remaining healthy next year.
However, there are downsides. Dunn isn’t getting any younger, and at 30 his best seasons might be behind him. The White Sox had the second-oldest team in the AL last season, and signing Dunn isn’t gonna help that any. He’s also almost purely a HR threat, with his strikeout rate and batting average well below what is expected of a player making $14 million a year.
Still, the White Sox were only 6 games behind Minnesota last season, and Dunn could definitely be the difference maker in an AL Central race that will probably come down to Minnesota and Chicago again. He looks to be a perfect fit for the White Sox and a good compliment to Paul Konerko (if they re-sign him) and Carlos Quentin.
Josh’s Grade: A-
Josh’s 2011 Prediction: .245 avg./ 35 HR/ 101 RBI