Examining Orioles, Nationals, LaRoche, Lee

The Nationals and Orioles have seemingly alternated in pursuing first basemen Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee this offseason, but the position is still vacant for both teams, and each player ranks among the top 15 remaining free agents, as detailed by Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTR.

The most recent development has the O's targeting Lee for a one-year deal worth $8MM, but nothing has come to fruition yet on that front. LaRoche rumors, meanwhile, have been relatively quieter since he was more strongly linked to both Baltimore and Washington earlier in December, perhaps because teams are hesitant to commit the three years and $21MM he is thought to be seeking.

Baltimore has already overhauled the left side of its infield this offseason, acquiring Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy in separate deals, and is seeking a proper first baseman to replace departed utility man Ty Wigginton, who started 98 games at first for the O's in 2010.

While the O's seem intent on landing Lee, LaRoche might better fit the team they're currently assembling. Manager Buck Showalter was lauded for getting the most out of his young players in 2010, which is presumably the plan for reinvigorating Reynolds and Hardy, and LaRoche, 31, is closer to his prime than Lee and coming off a bit of a down year (.261/.320/.468) in Arizona.

The Nationals, meanwhile, are seeking a replacement for Adam Dunn at first base, and although Lee, 35, is also coming off a tough season (.260/.347/.428), he could be a better one-year option for the Nats. With the Jayson Werth signing, Washington showed a willingness to spend on top-flight free agents, and there could be a few of them next offseason in Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez, assuming they don't sign extensions with their current teams.

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