Give Adam Dunn credit—he’s done everything possible over the past year and a half to increase his marketability as a trade chip. He’s a truly marketable player who could help the Nationals and a lot of other teams too.

He’s established a reputation as a not-totally-unacceptable defensive first baseman. His batting average has actually gone up at an age you expect to see declines (though that’s probably a function of luck, given that his strikeout rate and BABIP are both up by significant margins). And, of course, he’s continued to slug with the best of them. After last night’s HR hat-trick, Dunn’s at 20 for the year. He’s at 2.2 wins above replacement, putting him on track for the second most valuable season of his career.

Still, with the Nationals looking like they’ll struggle to get to 70 wins again this year, and Dunn a free agent, the conventional wisdom is that he’s the most obvious trade chip in baseball not named Cliff Lee.

You’ll be shocked to learn that I disagree with Boz, who argues that the Nationals should not trade Dunn, period. Dunn is valuable property, and the best option might be to re-sign him. But the free agent market for first basemen this winter is going to include Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Carlos Pena, Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee, and Paul Konerko. Guys like Adam LaRoche and Lance Berkman could be out there too, depending on what happens with options.

Dunn sat on the free agent market untill Feb. 11 in 2009. He could easily sit out there that long again, and if the Nationals want to bring him back they’d likely have a chance to do it whether they trade him now or not. In addition, they’ll likely get him for cheaper if they let him test the market than if they re-sign him now.

On the other hand, aging rentals just haven’t brought back the kinds of blue-chip prospects that they used to in recent years. Good young players are highly prized because they’re cheap, so it’s harder than ever to flip current value for equal future value.

As a fan, the thing to root for in 2011 isn’t Dunn. It’s Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder. They’re clearly the best players available. If they don’t get either of those guys, then re-signing Dunn isn’t the worst outcome imaginable, but to openly campaign to re-sign Dunn when younger, better players are available seems like a strange thing to do.

In the near term, clearly you don’t want them to give Dunn away for a package of C-level prospects, which might be the best offer they get. Again, the market for Dunn never really materialized after 2008, and he’s only two years older now.

So what they need is a team that thinks Dunn is the key to a championship and will make the Nationals an offer they can’t refuse. That’s why the best news of all might be the rumors that Kenny Williams might be interested. No GM in baseball is more aggressive about going for it every year.  This is the guy who grabbed Alex Rios and a contract no one wanted, and traded for Jake Peavy while he was on the DL in hopes that he’d come to Chicago, heal up, and make them a champion.

Ken Rosenthal says the Nationals are asking for Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin. Those would be great deals for Washington, but don’t expect Chicago to go for either of those offers. Then again, the Sox have an impressive farm system of big league-ready prospects like Tyler Flowers, Dan Hudson, and Jordan Danks. If Williams is as hot on Dunn as the rumors say, a very favorable deal for the Nationals might happen.

So, in the meantime, here’s what fans should do: 1. ignore Boz, 2. root for the White Sox to win, and 3. keep your powder dry and wait for things to play out before deciding whether or not they booted this chance.

Read more MLB news on