Never has a free agent signing felt so right. The Chicago White Sox made their first big free agent signing in quite some time, adding Adam Dunn to the roster. Honestly, this is the move I wanted above any other this offseason. The Big Donkey is the ideal hitter to be added to the current lineup. Left-handed? Check. Massive power numbers? The man averages 40 homers per 162 games! His career ISO is .271! .271! All nightmares of the DHydra of last season are gone! This is a time for hyperbole! Sure, he has flaws. He strikes out a great deal more than most. He plays abysmal defense no matter where you play him. He also has a career .902 OPS and averages over 100 walks a season. He is the best left-handed power threat the White Sox have had other than Jim Thome during my lifetime.
The pricetag is a bit high at 4 years/$56MM and the number 23 pick in the draft going to the Washington Nationals, but Dunn only needs to do what he's done his entire career to be worth it. If the rumors are true that Paul Konerko is coming back, Dunn will spend the majority of his time in the DH role. This will be great for him. And even though he is the exact slugger-type Ozzie seems to have hated in the past, if Oz gets the itch to be creative Dunn has played in the outfield in addition to his time at first. Kenny Williams seems to have announced that the White Sox intend on being a part of the AL Central race all the way to the end of the season yet again, and quite early. Things are beginning to look fairly bright on the South Side.
UPDATE (colin): Ignoring the value of the lost draft pick, Dunn will have to continue to mash to make sure we're getting market value for the money. His career line is .250/.381/.521, good for a .384 wOBA. Here's about what he'd have to hit as a DH over 630 PA per season to make the contract worthwhile:
2011: .385 wOBA
This is a fairly minimal decline, less than what's been typical for major leaguers. By that standard, the Sox will pay for a win or two they won't get. Working in their favor, as always, is their incredible record over the last decade keeping their players healthy. Teams will typically end up paying a premium beyond what the average value of all bids, since the highest bid usually wins the free agent, but the Sox are in a somewhat unique position to counter that loss. Signing Dunn presumably also limits the Sox' in some other fashion. If they get Paulie back on board, there's been some speculation that signing the pair of sluggers could mean the end of the Buehrle era, which in turn would mean Mark would waive his NTC. Signing Paulie to lose Buehrle isn't a great tradeoff for the club. MB has typically outperformed PK and we'd lose out on the Type A compensation to make up for the pick lost in signing Dunn.