CINCINNATI -- Since his hiring last Wednesday, new Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky had many pressing issues on his checklist before beginning Spring Training on Thursday. Few items were more important in crossing off than this. Late Monday evening, Cincinnati avoided arbitration with first baseman Adam Dunn by signing him to a two-year, $18.5 million contract with a $13 million club option for the 2008 season.
Dunn and the club were scheduled to have their arbitration hearing this Friday in Florida. "There were so many things going on at once. This was a priority," Krivsky said by phone from his home near Dallas. "I knew (a hearing) was looming and I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. Once we were close, I was confident we could get it done." Dunn batted .247 with 40 home runs and 101 RBIs in 160 games last season for the Reds, which gave him back-to-back 40 homer, 100-RBI seasons. "He's got tremendous raw power, probably as much as anybody. He waits for his pitch and when he gets it, he often does something with it," Krivsky said.
In arbitration figures exchanged last month, Dunn was seeking $8.95 million while Cincinnati offered $7.1 million.Negotiations between the club and Dunn's agent, Greg Genske, were already ongoing while interim GM Brad Kullman was in charge of the baseball operations. Once Krivsky was hired, and Kullman was dismissed Thursday, the process essentially started from scratch. "Basically, yeah," Krivsky said. Krivsky's first offer was tendered by the end of last week but more negotiations were needed through the weekend. Another offer followed Sunday as Krivsky headed to the airport to fly home to Texas to pack his things for Spring Training and take care of personal business. The two sides continued negotiating into Monday before reaching a basic agreement. Assistant GM Dean Taylor helped put together the formal language of the agreement in writing before Dunn's side signed off on the deal at around 8:45 p.m ET. After making $4.6 million in 2005, Dunn will make $7.5 million in 2006 and $10.5 million in 2007. His club option for 2008 can be bought out for $500,000. The option year will be voided if Dunn is traded at some point during the next two seasons, but he still will receive the $500,000 buyout payment. The first two seasons of the contract avoid a third year of arbitration eligibility and defer his first exploration into the free agent market for an extra season. "This was what we felt would get us out of a hearing," Krivsky said. "We took to it to [owner] Bob [Castellini] and he approved it. We made the offer. We satisfied both parties. It's nice to have it behind us and avoid a hearing." This will be a unique season for Dunn's career as he prepares to shift from left field to first base and replace departed star Sean Casey. Dunn decided to skip playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic to prepare and improve his defensive skills. Although the Reds agreed to a one-year contract with veteran first baseman Scott Hatteberg on Sunday, it doesn't appear a move back to the outfield was imminent. However, Krivsky deferred the issue to manager Jerry Narron. "As long as he's in our lineup, I don't care where he plays," Krivsky said. "It's up to the manager."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.