Adam LaRoche Rumors

Rizzo On Finding Middle Ground With LaRoche

Earlier today, the Nationals and first baseman Adam LaRoche reached agreement on a two-year, $24MM deal with a mutual option for the 2015 season.  Both parties had well-documented interest in a reunion, but they were at an impasse over the length of the deal. 

LaRoche, 33, wanted a three-year deal while the Nats said that they would not go beyond two.  It was reported that the Nationals were confident that no one would go to three years for the veteran, but General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters on a conference call this afternoon that he saw it as a very real possibility.

"He's a terrific player coming off of a terrific year.  And you know, the market for that kind of player is huge, so it did cross our mind.  We were being really honest with Adam and his people, this was about us having a good in-house backup plan that we didn't really have to worry about.  If a team was going to overwhelm Adam, we had our Plan B in place, but all along Adam was our first choice and our Plan A," Rizzo said.

With Mike Morse in place as a backup plan, Rizzo said that he found himself in an "enviable position in negotiations" and that allowed the club to be patient in their talks with LaRoche.  While Rizzo was willing to wait for the right deal, he admitted that he was anxious to get everything squared away.

"We were both getting tired of the process.  We had a lot of conversations back and forth with his representatives.  [Adam and I] had a few private conversation and I made it clear to Adam that it was time to make a decision.  Our offer was on the table for quite a while and we had other things to move on to.  He made it clear that he wanted to move on too," said the GM.

While Rizzo is now open to moving Morse in a deal and has a number of interested suitors, he says that he won't move the first baseman/outfielder unless he can get impact players in return, whether they're big league ready or minor league prospects.  If that kind of deal doesn't present itself, then Rizzo won't force a trade involving a "middle of the lineup hitter that's fairly attractively priced."

The Nationals tried to add a left-hander reliever this winter and still might, but Rizzo says that he didn't sign a southpaw in part because the club feels comfortable with the bullpen pieces that they already have in place.  Rizzo believes that his right-handers get lefties out better than most left-handed specialists and noted that manager Davey Johnson isn't a big fan of lefty-on-lefty matchups anyway.  The Nats were heavily linked to J.P. Howell before he signed on with the Dodgers last week.


Nationals Sign Adam LaRoche

3:23pm: The Nationals announced that the deal is now official.

12:02pm: The deal is worth $24MM and includes a mutual option, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports. LaRoche obtains $10MM in 2013, $12MM in 2014 and a $2MM buyout for a 2015 mutual option.

11:13am: The Nationals have agreed to sign Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). Terms of the deal between the Nationals and the SFX client are unknown.

Adam LaRoche - Nationals (PW)

LaRoche ranked 15th on MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents entering the offseason. He declined a one-year qualifying offer from Washington, linking him to draft pick compensation. That appeared to affect his market, as other teams remained hesitant to surrender top draft choices. The Nationals made LaRoche a two-year offer earlier in the offseason, though it took weeks for him to accept. Kilgore reported late last month that the Nationals wanted to resolve their talks with LaRoche relatively soon.

LaRoche enjoyed a strong season in 2012, finishing sixth in the NL MVP voting and winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger at his position. The left-handed hitter posted a .271/.343/.510 batting line in 647 plate appearances as Washington's first baseman, appearing in all but eight regular season games. He set a career-high with 33 home runs and matched a career-high with 100 RBI.

Michael Morse now becomes a trade candidate, since the Nationals have a starting first baseman and three starting outfielders (Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Denard Span). I can imagine teams such as the Orioles, Rays, Indians and Yankees pursuing Morse, who can play first base or a corner outfield position.

The Orioles, Rangers and Red Sox are among the teams that were linked to LaRoche this winter. He initially joined the Nationals on a two-year, $16MM contract following the 2010 season. That deal included a $10MM mutual option for 2013 that LaRoche declined at the beginning of November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL Central Notes: Cubs, Bourn, Reds, Rolen

The Cubs had interest in both Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez this winter, but General Manager Jed Hoyer said that signing both was never in the cards, tweets Jordan Bernfield of WGN Radio.  Hoyer and Sveum met with Jackson in California while Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts met with Sanchez in Florida.  Here’s more on the Cubs and other items out of the NL Central..



Quick Hits: LaRoche, Marlins, Delmon Young, Brewers

The Mills Commission published its final report on this date in 1907 concluding Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball in Cooperstown, NY in 1839 and had invented the word "baseball," designed the diamond, indicated fielders' positions, and written the rules. The commission's report remained the authoritative work on the origins of baseball for over a half a century before being scrutinzed by historians. It is now believed baseball did indeed evolve from rounders. Here's a round up of the latest news from around baseball:


Poll: Will LaRoche Get A Three Year Deal?

Adam LaRoche wants to return to Washington and the Nationals want to bring the first baseman back.  So what's LaRoche still doing on the open market?  Well, the 33-year-old is looking for a three-year deal and the Nats say that they won't go beyond two years.  They reportedly haven't felt pressured to consider a deal to keep LaRoche in D.C. through 2015, because they don't see another team offering him the same.  It looked like General Manager Mike Rizzo & Co. were dead on about that, until recently, when the Red Sox's situation with Mike Napoli became cloudy.

Amidst concerns over Napoli's hip, the two sides have still yet to finalize their three-year, $39MM deal.  Whether it's a play for leverage or legitimate concern over the catcher's health, Boston has begun talking to LaRoche as a plan B.  Even though we're closing in on the New Year and LaRoche's market likely isn't what he expected, he's still not willing to budge on his demand for a three-year pact.

How do you see it playing out?  Do you see the Nationals, Red Sox, or any other team giving LaRoche a three-year contract?


The Latest On Adam LaRoche

Free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche told Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post that he is in talks with multiple clubs in addition to the Nationals. His preference is to remain in Washington, but he also expressed some frustration that the two sides have not yet reached an agreement.

“We’re talking to a few other teams,” said LaRoche to Kilgore yesterday. “Got to keep things open in case Washington doesn’t work out. I’m still hopeful that it will, but as you know it takes two sides cooperating to make that happen. I’m doing everything I can.”

LaRoche added that he's left negotiations to his representatives at SFX, saying he's "let the guys who get paid to do that do their job." The 33-year-old is the top remaining free agent slugger, having hit .271/.343/.510 with 33 homers in 647 plate appearances for the Nationals last season. Since he rejected a qualifying offer, he will require draft pick compensation to sign.

The Nationals have made LaRoche a two-year contract offer, but he's seeking a third guaranteed year. He's reportedly been talking to the Red Sox as their agreement with Mike Napoli appears to be in danger due to a hip issue. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked LaRoche as the 15th best free agent available this winter, predicting he would re-sign with the Nats.


NL East Notes: Howell, LaRoche, Crisp, Marlins

Happy 60th birthday to former Mets third baseman Ray Knight, whose World Series MVP performance in 1986 helped lift the Amazins to their most recent championship.  Here's the latest from the NL East…

  • J.P. Howell is still the Nationals' top choice amongst available left-handed relievers, reports Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.  Several other teams are known to have interest in Howell besides the Nats, who missed out on another southpaw bullpen option when Mike Gonzalez agreed to sign with the Brewers today.
  • The Nationals and Adam LaRoche are no closer to an agreement, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson.  LaRoche appears to be insistent on a three-year deal while the Nats aren't willing to offer him more than two years.  The Red Sox have also shown interest in LaRoche but not for three years.
  • The Mets showed some interest in Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweeted last week, though the "sense is that [Oakland] will keep him." Crisp, 33, hit .259/.325/.418 in 508 PAs with the A's in 2012 and was also 39-for-43 in stolen base attempts.  Crisp is set to earn $7MM in 2013 and the A's have a $7.5MM option on him for 2014 that can be bought out for $1MM, plus he'd receive a $250K bonus if he's traded.
  • The Marlins have spent much of the winter looking for center field help but haven't found a fit, leaving Justin Ruggiano as the favorite to win the job, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes as part of a reader mailbag.  Frisaro believes Miami hasn't been too ardent in looking for a center fielder since prospect Christian Yelich could be ready for the majors by 2014 or even late next season.
  • Also from Frisaro, the Marlins plan to keep Ricky Nolasco "at least for much of the first half of the season."  Nolasco is entering the last year of his contract and has already said he'd prefer a trade out of Miami, so the right-hander is a good bet to be moved before the trade deadline.  The Marlins told teams during the Winter Meetings that Nolasco wasn't available.
  • Even though the Marlins aren't shopping Giancarlo Stanton, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki thinks it's a moot point for the Phillies, who don't have the minor league depth necessary to acquire the slugger even if the Fish did make him available.  I'd also add that the Marlins are unlikely to deal Stanton to another NL East team, though the Fish have been known to deal stars (such as Dan Uggla) within their division if the price is right.
  • From earlier today on MLBTR, the Mets were looking for relief pitching and the Marlins had only very mild interest in Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez.

AL East Notes: Pedroia, LaRoche, Smoak, Thome

In an appearance on WEEI radio's Red Sox Hot Stove show (partial transcript provided by WEEI.com's Alex Speier), Dustin Pedroia said he hadn't heard anything from his agents about any talks with the Red Sox about a possible contract extension.  It was reported in November that Boston was interested in extending its second baseman, and Pedroia is eager to pursue such negotiations should they arise. "Obviously, I want to be a Red Sox my whole career and play in that city, turn this whole thing around to get back to where we were my first couple years there," Pedroia said.

Here's the latest from the AL East…

  • The Red Sox are not only disinclined to give Adam LaRoche a three-year contract, but the club also doesn't want to surrender a draft pick to sign the free agent first baseman, tweets Peter Gammons.  Boston has interest in LaRoche as a backup option if Mike Napoli can't be signed, and signing LaRoche would cost the Sox their second-round draft pick since LaRoche turned down a qualifying offer from the Nationals. 
  • Speaking of that Red Sox draft pick, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford looks at why Boston is hesitant to give up that selection.
  • The Orioles "kicked the tires" on trading for Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak in each of the last two offseasons and also rated Smoak highly in his draft year, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.  Connolly sees Smoak as a good trade target for the O's and wonders if a Smoak-for-Brian Matusz deal would work for both teams.  We heard earlier this week that the Orioles continued to have interest in Smoak, who could be expendable now that Seattle has Kendrys Morales in the fold.
  • Jim Thome is "not an ideal fit" to return to the Orioles, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, as manager Buck Showalter would prefer to rotate his regulars through the DH spot.  Earlier this month, Thome said he is open to returning in 2013 for his 23rd Major League season.
  • The Rays' strong recent track record of signing veteran bullpen arms augers well for the Roberto Hernandez signing, writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain.  Hernandez signed a one-year, $3.25MM deal with the Rays earlier this month.

Red Sox Talking To Adam LaRoche

The Red Sox are talking with free agent Adam LaRoche, two sources tell Jen Royle of SB Nation Boston (via Twitter).  LaRoche is seeking a three-year deal and a third source tells Royle that he's still not willing to compromise on contract length.

LaRoche would be the alternative to signing Mike Napoli, but major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Boston would prefer to complete their deal with the backstop.  The Red Sox haven't given any official word on why the deal with Napoli hasn't been completed, but sources say that an issue with one of Napoli's hips has given the club pause.  There's an agreement in place for a three-year, $39MM deal, but the Red Sox could simply walk from it since it has not been finalized.

If the Red Sox did sign LaRoche, Rosenthal writes that Napoli would go back into the market and likely accept a shorter, cheaper deal, possibly from the Rangers.  The Nationals would fill the void internally by moving Michael Morse to first base and go with an outfield of Bryce Harper in left, Denard Span in center, and Jayson Werth in right.  However, Napoli remains Boston's preference in part because signing LaRoche would cost a second-round pick.

The Napoli problem is familiar territory for Boston as they put language in the contracts of right fielder J.D. Drew and right-hander John Lackey to protect from pre-existing medical conditions.  According to sources, the Red Sox are working to get Napoli to agree to similar protection in his deal. 


The Latest On Unsigned Top 50 Free Agents

At the outset of the offseason, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes published his annual list of the top 50 free agents with predictions. So far 43 of those 50 players have signed (or agreed to sign) new contracts, though Mike Napoli's deal with the Red Sox is on hold due to a hip problem. Here's the latest on the seven remaining unsigned players.