Adam LaRoche Rumors

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.


Rangers Notes: LaRoche, Swisher, Upton

Earlier today, Rangers assistant General Manager Thad Levine joined Jim Bowden on SiriusXM radio.  Here’s a look at some highlights (all links go to Twitter)..

  • The Rangers were never in on Adam LaRoche or Nick Swisher this winter as they didn’t want to dole out long-term deals or sacrifice a draft pick for either player.  Swisher came to terms with the Indians this morning on a four-year, $56MM deal.
  • The assistant GM said that the club has had great conversations with Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers about Justin Upton.  The Rangers have been in talks with Arizona about Upton for quite some time, but it now appears that the Diamondbacks would prefer to trade Jason Kubel.  Kubel is set to earn $7.5MM in 2013 with a mutual option for the same amount in 2014, while Upton is owed $38.5MM through 2015.
  • Levine says that the Rangers have not discussed Kyle Lohse or Adam LaRoche at this point (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers are looking more to trades than free agency to improve their team at this point, Levine told Bowden (on Twitter).

Nationals & LaRoche Inching Towards New Contract

The Nationals and Adam LaRoche have made "a little bit of progress" towards a new contract this week according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Yesterday we learned the team may soon push for a resolution to negotiations.

LaRoche, 33, has a two-year offer in hand from Washington but is reportedly seeking a third guaranteed year. GM Mike Rizzo has not yet indicated a willingness to meet that demand, but he has said the team will proceed with internal options — specifically Mike Morse and Tyler Moore — should the two sides fail to reach a deal. LaRoche rejected a qualifying offer, though the Nats would not need to surrender a draft pick to re-sign their own player.


Nationals Aim To Resolve LaRoche Talks

The Nationals want to settle their negotiations with Adam LaRoche, and could press for resolution soon, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Though general manager Mike Rizzo wouldn’t issue the free agent first baseman an ultimatum, he might deliver “something close to it.”

The Nationals made LaRoche a two-year offer earlier in the offseason after he declined a qualifying offer. Rizzo could tell LaRoche that the Nationals intend to proceed with internal options if he doesn’t accept their offer, Kilgore writes. If LaRoche signs elsewhere — teams such as the Orioles and Rangers could be interested — the Nationals would rely on Michael Morse at first base. If LaRoche accepts the Nationals’ offer, Morse would become a trade candidate. LaRoche wants a three-year deal, but he’s tied to draft pick compensation, which could be limiting his free agent value.

The Nationals aren’t worried about the possibility of another team offering LaRoche a three-year deal, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reported today (Twitter links). In that scenario the Nationals would obtain a compensatory draft pick from the signing team. The Nationals won’t give LaRoche a three-year deal, according to Bowden, the team’s former GM.


Olney On Soriano, LaRoche, Braves

Baseball’s most recent collective bargaining agreement introduced new rules regarding draft pick compensation, and the changes were expected to help free agents. However, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that some agents and general managers say certain free agents who obtained qualifying offers are now seeing reduced interest from teams. These players are talented, but general managers are hesitant to give up draft picks. Here are more notes from Olney’s column…

  • One GM pointed out that teams aren’t “wild about giving up a draft pick for a reliever," even though Rafael Soriano is a good pitcher. The Yankees almost certainly won’t consider taking him back, according to Olney.
  • The Red Sox have targeted players who aren’t linked to draft pick compensation, as Olney points out.
  • Adam LaRoche is tied to draft pick compensation and it’s “really hurting him,” Olney writes. The first baseman has been sitting on a two-year offer from the Nationals.
  • It appears that the Braves would be fairly comfortable going into the season with Martin Prado playing both left field and third base. They’d use Reed Johnson in left field against left-handers and Juan Francisco at third base against right-handers in that scenario.