Dunn in the Sun: Reds slugger comes to Arizona

The Arizona Diamondbacks responded, in spades, to the Dodgers' acquisition of Manny Ramirez, picking up Cincinnati Reds slugger Adam Dunn this morning, in exchange for 2006 third-round draft pick Dallas Buck and two minor-league players to be named. Dunn is due to be paid about $4 million down the stretch, although reports have the Reds sending cash to Arizona, to help offset the cost.

Dunn has hit .233/.373/.528 with 32 homers and 74 RBI this season, figures that are right in line with his career line of .247/.380/.520; he has also hit exactly forty homers each of the past three season. He is also a strikeout machine - so he should fit in very well here. With Dunn, Arizona now has three of the top five strikeout men in the league: Mark Reynolds is second on 147 K's, Chris Young third at 122 and Dunn is fifth having fanned 120 times.

Dunn has played almost all the season at left-field, and the key question got Arizona is, where are we going to put him? The answer - at least for now - appears to be in right-field, replacing Romero as an everyday player [Incidentally, the promotion of outfielder Salazar to replace Hudson now makes a good deal more sense. I hope he enjoyed his at-bat on Saturday.] That's going to be interesting defensively, as Dunn hasn't played there since August 2003, and will also likely only be a temporary solution, since Justin Upton will (hopefully) be back in a couple of weeks.

That will complicate things even further, and while the waiver-wire claim by Arizona, interestingly, was made before we lost Hudson for the season, this adds even more complexity to the possible lineup At that point, there appear to be four main scenarios open:
    Dunn to 1B, Tracy to 3B, Reynolds to 2B
    Dunn to 1B, Tracy to bench, Ojeda/Burke to 2B
    Dunn to LF, CoJack to 1B, Tracy to 3B, Reynolds to 2B
    Dunn to LF, CoJack to 1B, Tracy to bench, Ojeda/Burke to 2B

There are some other possibilities, that would leave Dunn in RF:
   Upton moving to CF and Young being benched
   Upton going to 2B,
   Leaving Upton down in Triple-A and saving the service time.
But the first four seem the most likely. I've added a poll for this topic. Almost any of the viable options should also mean an end to playing-time for Tony Clark; however, given that we also should probably never have brought him back to Arizona to begin with, I am not optimistic this is the case.

Looking at what we are losing. The 23-year old Dallas Buck has Tommy John surgery in June last year, but is now back. He has a 1-5 record between South Bend (A-ball) and Visalia (High-A), with an ERA of 3.55 and K:BB ratio of 28:11. There's some suggestion that the other players may be ones who are currently on the 40-man roster - we would need to clear space there, to make room for Dunn, though we could move Hudson to the 60-day DL and open a spot that way. If not, possibilities there include infielders Javier Brito and Josh Whitesell, catcher Wilkin Castillo, and pitchers Emiliano Fruto and Esmerling Vasquez. I'm almost certain it won't be the untouchables like Scherzer or Parker.

Also worth bearing in mind is, that with Dunn almost certain to be a Type-A free agent, we'll get two additional draft picks in compensation. That's assuming we don't resign Dunn. Much though he would provide the left-handed power-hitter we've been looking for, he would likely be too expensive. He earns a total of $13m this year and, at age 28, will be seeking a prime contract [probably $15-20m per year] in free agency. He and Ramirez are among the cream of the crop among the available outfielders this off-season.

There's no doubt that this will prove a boost to Arizona's struggling offense in the last couple of months. Dunn is not such a BA threat as Ramirez, but his power is undeniable, and he should prosper. If the signing of Manny tipped the balance of power towards the coast, this brings things much closer to being balanced, if not actively towards the desert. And particularly nice timing to get him on board in time for a series in Colorado...

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