The Nationals needed to improve their offense this offseason. They ranked near the bottom in almost every offensive category last year. The team found at least part of the solution when it signed first baseman/outfielder Adam Dunn to a two-year, $20 million contract on Feb. 12.
Dunn, who will join Ryan Zimmerman in the middle of the lineup, has hit at least 40 home runs for five straight seasons. Although he has a .247 career batting average, he has a lifetime on-base percentage of .381.
Dunn is already comfortable in his new surroundings. It helps that he has been reunited with outfielders Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena. All three played together on the Reds.
MLB.com caught up with Dunn recently to talk about his baseball career.
MLB.com: When you became a free agent after the 2008 World Series, what did you think the market would be like?
Adam Dunn: I only knew by what it has been in the past or what I have been told, because I don't worry about that stuff during the season at all. I don't want to worry about it until I have to. So I really didn't know what to expect. I thought it would be a lot more teams involved, but it just didn't work out that way.
MLB.com: How surprising was it to you that the economy affected a lot of free agents?
Dunn: Looking back on it, baseball, for the most part, did pretty well, but I understand the economy affects everybody. It's just the way it is.
MLB.com: Were you frustrated at all during the free-agent process?
Dunn: You know, I was very frustrated, because I didn't know where I was going. I like to have a plan. I like to know where I'm going. For it to take that long, it was very frustrating. But, again, it worked out for the better.
MLB.com: Why did you sign with the Nationals?
Dunn: To make a long story short, the main reason was I realized they are a very talented team. It's a very young team. Just because the team is young does not mean it can't win. It's very intriguing for me to come in and be looked upon as a guy who is really wanted here. I have an opportunity to help this team turn it around. There isn't a better place in the world than Washington, D.C., in my opinion, to win a championship.
MLB.com: I want to talk about your game on the field. There are critics who have called you the Dave Kingman of the 21st century. Does that bother you at all?
Dunn: This is going to be so bad, but I don't know much about Dave Kingman. So if it's trying to be a knock on me, then I don't know.
MLB.com: The critics are talking about the strikeouts and saying that Kingman was a below-average defensive player.
Dunn: I can think of a few of those. Yeah, OK, that's fine.
MLB.com: That doesn't bother you?
Dunn: I am what I am.
MLB.com: Everybody knows what the critics say, but what's the best part of your game?
Dunn: It's pretty self-explanatory. I think people forget that I am still 29 years old and I have a lot of baseball left in me. I know it's going to get better. I'm a way better player than I've shown. That's talk, so you have to go out and do it. I'm not going to waste my breath on it.
MLB.com: I spoke to Barry Larkin and Aaron Boone recently, and they said you have leadership skills. Could you explain what they meant?
Dunn: I try not to be in the papers as far as self promoting or things like that. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how great I am and how great of a leader I am. As bad as this sounds, what people say or think outside this clubhouse [doesn't bother me]. The guys who played with me know when things needed to get handled, it was handled inside where nobody knew about it. There are a lot of things I have to offer.
MLB.com: Talk about your time in Cincinnati. How much did you enjoy being there?
Dunn: Obviously, I enjoyed it a ton. I didn't enjoy the losing. I never lost in my life until I got to the big leagues, and I really didn't know how to accept losing. I can't accept losing, I hate losing. I can't scream, yell and throw my helmet when I get mad. It was instilled in me when I was in the seventh grade. I hold it in, man. It's hard. It's very hard. I know you are going to lose eventually, but I don't want to.
MLB.com: While you were in Cincinnati, you took a beating on the air from Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman. Why did you take his criticism of you the way you did?
Dunn: Everybody knows Marty. Marty is Marty. You can ask anyone who ever played with the Reds. He is very outspoken. It's just Marty. Why did he do it? It's just good radio. It is what it is. I never had a problem with Marty. Me and Marty never had a shouting match. That's fine. If it took the pressure off Jay Bruce or [Edinson Volquez], I'll be the whipping boy. That's fine.
MLB.com: Is it true that your parents never listened to your games on the radio because of Brennaman?
Dunn: It's so much harder on them. They watch every single game. It makes them mad, obviously. That is the problem over there. It's very negative. I don't want to lump the entire media. There are very good guys over there, but there are very negative people over there. I think that's a big problem over there. It's sad.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.