Adam LaRoche has certainly thrived in his return to Atlanta. He's hitting a ridiculous .356/.429/.638 with the Braves in 2009 – a monstrous second half in his contract year. The Braves will face an interesting decision in what to do with LaRoche this offseason, but according to Carroll Rogers, you can count teammate Chipper Jones among those who want to see LaRoche back with the Braves in 2010 and beyond:
"…[Y]ou have the best first baseman that’s going to be on the market in house now. So why not do all you can to lock him up. What else does a guy have to do? He’s produced since he’s been here. He’s been one of the key reasons we’ve gone from a .500 club to 10 games over since he got here. He’s an incredible defender. A 30-home run guy in a pitcher’s ballpark is a commodity that needs to be treasured.”
Jones acknowledges that the Braves #5 prospect, Freddie Freeman, is moving up through the minors. Freeman, however, just turned 20, and has struggled in his move from High-A to Class AA, putting up a line of just .248/.308/.342 through 41 games.
Rogers spoke with both Jones and LaRoche about LaRoche's desire for the security of a multi-year deal. Looking for three years or more, LaRoche says his ideal situation would be to stay in Atlanta, but he recognizes that it might not happen.
The Braves also have decisions to make on the back of their bullpen, as well as with what Javier Vazquez's future with the organization looks like. This year's free agent class of first basemen will likely be headed by names such as Nick Johnson, Aubrey Huff, and Russell Branyan. Will LaRoche outperform these names over the coming years?
If you were Frank Wren, how would you handle the situation? Should LaRoche be counted on as a long-term solution, or do you spend on other holes and try to find a quick stopgap at first base for a season?