Slugger Adam Dunn‘s tenure with the Chicago White Sox will always be looked upon unfavorably. Three inconsistent years at the plate will do that. Failing to live up to one of the heftiest contracts in a franchise’s history will also do that.
Heading into the 2011 season, the White Sox were “all in” as their season’s motto read beginning the year. The main move that signaled this mindset was the signing of Dunn.
In 2010, the White Sox suffered from a designated hitter problem. To say that they lacked production from that position would be an understatement. With the platoon of Mark Kotsay and Mark Teahen, who combined for 12 homers and 56 runs batted in, the Sox had a problem that was the thorn in the side of their offense. With Paul Konerko still in the midst of his prime, the Sox thought that the lefty presence of the Marks would instill some sort of fear in the minds of their opponents; it did the complete opposite.
Countless times Kotsay and Teahen would come up with runners in scoring position and hit a meager fly ball or strikeout. Both players clearly could not live up to the lofty expectations placed on them by the team brass. Entering 2011, under general manager Kenny Williams‘ win-now at any cost mindset, they searched for the biggest bang for their buck.
Dunn’s struggles have been well-documented over the past three-plus years. In his first three seasons with the White Sox, Dunn hit .159, .204, and .219, respectively. His power, which is what people believed made up for his lack of contact, became sporadic. After a dismal 11-home run season in 2011, Dunn smashed 41 and 34 in his next two campaigns. His home run totals were misleading because Dunn would blast multiple ones during a stretch of games and then go cold for an unorthodox period of time. His inconsistent power, high strikeout totals and overall inefficiency to put the ball in play made Sox nation turn on Dunn.
In the final year of his four-year contract, Dunn has looked more patient at the plate. His 53 strikeouts are still alarming, but he is on pace to miss his yearly average in a White Sox uniform by a significant amount. While he is not projected to exceed his average home run total, his number of doubles (eight so far) are on pace to surpass his recent totals.
With the White Sox in rebuilding mode and Dunn presenting himself as a viable rental player with some pop, what should the team do if another ball club comes knocking? It is common sense to say that the Sox should definitely take a deal for Dunn. Why would they not unload his contract, taking into account that they would have to eat a significant piece of it? The only question remains what would they get in return?
The White Sox have unloaded a power left-handed bat before in recent memory. In 2009, the team traded Jim Thome to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Justin Fuller, who never amounted to much in the baseball world. That is exactly what the Sox should expect to receive in a Dunn deal. A minor leaguer who they will add to the system for depth. Not a piece to build around for the future. Not an arm that will be in the rotation for years to come. And the team should be OK with that. Unloading any part of one of the worst contract’s in team history is what the Sox, and their fans, can be happy with.