The White Sox have traded away closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays, and apparently are shopping another very good reliever, Matt Thornton, to the Braves. GM Kenny Williams means business, as usual, and few guys seem safe. But if there’s one you’re near-certain not to hear in the frantic White Sox rumor mill, it’s Adam Dunn.
Dunn is coming off one of an historically bad season, and has $44 million left on his contract. He’s about as close to an immovable object as there is in the game today, right up there with Carlos Lee from a few years back.
Dunn batted .159 for the White Sox in 2011, and had Ozzie Guillen not sat him down with regularity late in the season, he would’ve had enough plate appearances to qualify for lowest batting average in modern history.
Noboday’s saying Dunn, 32, is done. He’s now got a full year facing American League pitchers under his belt, and that should help.
But this past season was such a stunner, it’s forcing the White Sox to reevalute just what they do with him. And early indications, from new manager Robin Ventura, moments ago: He’ll potentially do less DHing, and more defending.
Dunn was a DH for 81 games last year, first baseman for 35, and an outfielder for two.
“I think, you know, for him playing in the National for so long, DH is a different position,” Ventura said. “I think there are some guys that play better by being on the field. They get a better feel of the game and the at-bats by just being on the field.
“If that’s something that he would want to do, I would promote that.”
Ventura said that’s the opinion of himself, as well as White Sox management.
Dunn spent the first 10 years of his major league career in the NL, playing mostly field field and some first base. He was no threat to win a Gold Glove, but the bat was impressive when he was playing defense. From 2004-10, he averaged more than 40 home runs.
Simply put — and general managers know the risks — some guys can’t handle DH duties. During slumps, it’s easy to just sit and dwell on the bad at-bats. By playing defense, you can theoretically set aside the struggles and focus on other ways to help the team.
Ventura hopes that can help Dunn. It also could benefit the White Sox in another way: That’d allow the club to give slugging first baseman Paul Konerko, who turns 36 in March, some occasional rest.
(Interesting side note: The Tigers and White Sox both were after the same big bats last winter: Dunn and Victor Martinez. Both were signed to be a primary DH for their first time in their great careers. The Tigers chose Martinez, who went out and batted .330; the White Sox then turned to Dunn, who flopped miserably.)