AL Central Notes: Dunn, Knapp, Nathan

A few tidbits of note from what may be one of the more competitive and intriguing divisions in baseball in 2011 …

  • White Sox slugger Adam Dunn suspects that his now-infamous war of words with then-Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi in 2008 hurt his value on the free-agent market that offseason, writes Anthony Castrovince of Dunn, of course, was traded from the Reds to the Diamondbacks in a post-deadline deal in 2008 and signed a modest two-year deal with the Nationals in the subsequent offseason. He reportedly was unwilling to be a full-time DH then, but when he hit free agency this offseason after two productive years in Washington, he had no such qualms, signing a nice four-year, $56MM deal with the South Siders.
  • Indians right-hander Jason Knapp could "rocket up" next year's prospects lists if he's healthy this year and continues to polish up his raw talents, writes Jim Callis of Baseball America. It feels like a lifetime ago that the Indians acquired Knapp from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal, and it looks like Knapp may be Cleveland's last hope of salvaging a player with big upside from that swap. As Callis notes, Knapp has logged only 40 innings since the Tribe acquired him in 2009 due to injuries, but he's still only 21.
  • Twins reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2010, will have to prove that he's his old self before he returns to closing duty, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t make any decisions until the end of spring training," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Passan. "If [Nathan] comes back and throws like he did two years ago, he’ll probably be our closer." Of course, the Twins have a nice insurance policy in Matt Capps should Nathan not be ready. The Twins acquired Capps in a midseason trade last year and avoided arbitration with him this offseason, settling on a 2011 salary of $7.15MM.