When we spoke to executives in March, Adam LaRoche's name came up as one of the best free agent signings of the offseason. Power is typically expensive on the free agent market, but the Diamondbacks signed LaRoche in January to a one-year, $6MM deal with a mutual option for 2011. LaRoche had reportedly turned down a better proposal from the Giants, but the first baseman qualified that offer by explaining "It was two years with three- or four-year options."
LaRoche is off to a .255/.367/.480 start for Arizona in his first 120 plate appearances. He answered a long-time criticism by hitting well in the season's first month, though he'd done that in '09 too. LaRoche has also mashed left-handed pitching in a tiny 32 plate appearance sample; that deficiency may also have been overstated.
On April 22nd, ESPN's Jayson Stark named LaRoche as a potential midseason trade candidate. Stark suggested LaRoche's mutual option could be a complication, as it increases by $2MM if he's traded. I don't think that will be a concern, though, as mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides.
Which contenders could use a boost at first base? The Rangers might consider a rental, depending on how Justin Smoak performs over the next few months. The Mariners could find LaRoche to be an upgrade over Casey Kotchman, which would be interesting since the two were traded for each other last year. The Marlins could take LaRoche for a few months, as they did with Nick Johnson last year. LaRoche may join Brandon Webb, Chris Snyder, and Chad Qualls on the trade market if the D'Backs become sellers later this year.