"The losers in all of this are the Nationals, who probably could've locked up Dunn for something in the range of three years and $30 million at the All-Star break, when Dunn very much wanted to stay in Washington. After deciding to not make that deal, the Nationals' leadership opted to not trade Dunn when the interest in him was at its hottest, in July; they failed to get any major league ready young players, which is exactly what they have a desperate need for today.
In the end, they get a couple of draft picks in compensation, and now that the smoke has cleared, it's clear that they badly missed in taking advantage of his value, either with a contract extension or in trade.
Their lineup without Dunn suddenly looks very different -- significantly weakened. Without Dunn hitting in the middle of the order, there is no reason for opposing pitchers to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman."
I'm not exactly sure how accurate it is that the Nationals could have locked up Dunn for three years at $30 million at the All-Star break, as it seemed that Dunn was hell bent on getting his fourth year. But could they have gotten him at four years for $40 million? Probably. As Olney points out, that makes the Nationals losers in this situation, and for their first time in their young franchise it seems like they may have been better off not letting the big name player go to free agency.