Last night closed the book on the 4-year $56 million dollar contract Adam Dunn signed when he left the Nationals via free agency after the 2010 season. Letting Dunn walk away was controversial at the time, considering Dunn had just come off a 38 home run, .358 OBP season.
Adam Dunn’s struggles since leaving Washington are well-chronicled. He batted .202 over that 4-year period, including a historically bad .159 in 469 plate appearances in 2011.
But most importantly, Adam Dunn’s departure earned the Nationals a first round compensation pick in the 2011 draft where they selected Alex Meyer, a pitcher who quickly rose the top prospect rankings before being shipped to Minnesota for…Denard Span in 2012.
The Dunn for Meyer for Span swap doesn’t even rank as the Nationals savviest free agent/compensation pick move. That would be Jordan Zimmermann, who was drafted in 2007 after the Nats let Alfonso Soriano depart after the 2006 season. But the Dunn for Meyer for Span swap does demonstrate how effective GM Mike Rizzo is at thinking big picture and building a team for the long term.
This type of thinking is why Mike Rizzo didn’t empty the farm system to “make a World Series run” and it’s why the aforementioned Zimmermann and Ian Desmond haven’t yet signed contract extensions. This guy knows what he’s doing.
Winning the National League East is fun. And watching playoff baseball involving the home team is even more fun. Rizzo’s plan is to do it every season.