The slugger with 460 career home runs but zero at-bats in the postseason was traded by the Chicago White Sox to Oakland on Sunday, possibly giving the contending A's the power boost they need for the stretch.
The White Sox also sent cash to Oakland while acquiring minor league pitcher Nolan Sanburn. Because the deal was made before Sept. 1, Dunn will be eligible for the postseason if the suddenly sluggish Athletics make the playoffs.
The 34-year-old Dunn has played more games — 1,976 — without reaching the postseason than any active major leaguer. This is his 14th season and, with a contract set to expire, said he's planning to retire after this year.
Dunn waived his no-trade clause and approved the deal.
"This is probably going to be it," he said. "I think that also weighed a lot, too. This is an opportunity. I've been playing a long time and haven't got this opportunity, so I'm going to try to make the most of it."
Dunn is hitting .220 with 20 homers and 54 RBIs. Earlier in his career, he played for Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington.
Oakland holds the top wild-card spot in the American League. The A's were second in the AL West after three straight losses to the division-leading Los Angeles Angels, and hadn't scored in 22 innings going into Sunday's series finale.
"I think this is just an opportunity for him that he should've taken," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It came about and you talk to him about it, you're happy that he gets a chance to go do this. I think even if he does happen to hang it up after this year, he'll at least get a shot at doing this."
The A's trailed the Angels by four games, their largest deficit since May 2013. The Athletics were looking to add a hitter after trading Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for starter Jon Lester before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline.
"We're trying to do whatever we can to get some offense going here," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "The guy has a history of hitting homers and getting on base, and I know he's excited about being with us."
Along with Dunn, the White Sox have traded away second baseman Gordon Beckham and outfielder Alejandro De Aza in the past week and a half.
Dunn has struggled in four seasons with the White Sox, mostly as a designated hitter. He has played first base and some outfield, and even made his first career pitching appearance this season in a mop-up role.
The White Sox envisioned making playoff runs when they signed Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract in December 2010. Dunn was coming off back-to-back 38-homer seasons with Washington but the plan didn't unfold as envisioned.
"I wish things would've worked out better, but it didn't," he said.
Dunn's first season in Chicago was brutal. His average dropped more than 100 points to .159 while he hit just 11 homers in 2011, and he never really lived up to expectations after that.
He became a lightning rod for fans with his high strikeout totals, finishing one shy of the record with 222 in 2012, but he remained popular in the clubhouse.
"Some people like to lump it all together," teammate Paul Konerko said. "We know the first year was a rough year, but if you look at a lot of his time here, he kind of did what he was supposed to be doing."
General manager Rick Hahn said the White Sox started to zero in on the Oakland deal on Saturday. He discussed the possibility with Dunn, and the veteran waived his no-trade clause.
"This deal, we feel real good about Sanburn," Hahn said. "He's a young power arm with good pitch ability and good secondary pitches."
He said Sanburn will likely start next season in Double-A. As for Dunn's time in Chicago?
"Obviously, we were both disappointed that we didn't accomplish on the field what we had hoped when the deal was originally signed four years ago," Hahn said. "He was brought here as part of a plan to help us win championships in that window, and it didn't happen. From that standpoint, I think we're all disappointed. From the clubhouse standpoint, he was outstanding."
The White Sox also called up first baseman Andy Wilkins and Scott Snodgress from Triple-A Charlotte, reinstated outfielder Moises Sierra from the 15-day disabled list and outrighted pitcher Nestor Molina to Double-A Birmingham on Sunday.
Wilkins, who had 30 home runs and 85 RBIs for Charlotte, started at first base on Sunday.
Dunn, meanwhile, gets to play in meaningful games down the stretch.
"I think that's what's probably really exciting for him at this point, is to come in here and play meaningful games in September and hopefully help a team get to the postseason," Melvin said.
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