Adam LaRoche Rumors

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.

Rosenthal On Rangers, Nakajima, Upton

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • Rangers officials aren’t overwhelmed by the remaining free agent position players available, Rosenthal reports. Texas has done background work on A.J. Pierzynski, and could work to sign him. However, Adam LaRocheNick Swisher and Michael Bourn seem like less likely targets. The Rangers are particularly concerned about makeup, according to Rosenthal. Manager Ron Washington knows Swisher from their days in Oakland and likes the outfielder, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Rangers still want to add to their bullpen, and Rosenthal suggests they could make a play for Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. The team is also exploring other bullpen options via trades and free agency. Hanrahan’s projected salary of $6.9MM limits interest from the Dodgers and Tigers, Rosenthal writes.
  • Hiroyuki Nakajima has range that is average “at best,” one executive told Rosenthal. However, the A’s agreed to sign the 30-year-old free agent to a two-year deal in part because they like his offensive potential.
  • Now that many free agent third basemen have signed, the Marlins could pursue a top third base prospect who’s close to contributing at the MLB level. However, it would be difficult to put together a package for a player such as Mike Olt.
  • Some executives believe the Diamondbacks will trade Justin Upton even after GM Kevin Towers said a deal seems unlikely. There’s a perception that the Diamondbacks are down on Upton, Rosenthal notes.
  • When Mets executive Paul DePodesta watched outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra in 2011, he liked the prospect’s athleticism and effort. The Mets acquired the 18-year-old Becerra in the R.A. Dickey trade.
  • The Red Sox are always looking to upgrade their bullpen, Rosenthal adds.

Orioles Hesitant To Pursue LaRoche

The Orioles would like to add power to the lineup and improve their defense at first base, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes that the draft pick compensation that is tied to Adam LaRoche is a deterrent to executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette.

The 33-year-old LaRoche hit .271/.343/.510 with a career-high 33 homers in 2012 after missing the majority of 2011 with a torn labrum. For the third consecutive season, both the Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating praised LaRoche's defense at first base.

Connolly writes that multiple sources have told him the Orioles have legitimate interest in LaRoche. However, Duquette's plan since taking the reins in Baltimore has been to build through the draft. Forfeiting the 24th overall pick to sign LaRoche, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Nationals, would go against that mentality. The Orioles do also have the 35th pick, but Duquette prefers to stockpile picks rather than consider some expendable.

As for LaRoche himself, he doesn't mind playing the waiting game, according to the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. LaRoche is content to wait out his situation, and doing so could have an initially unexpected benefit. Should the Red Sox see their deal with Mike Napoli fall apart, LaRoche would have another interested suitor. There does appear to be a snag in the finalization of the deal between Napoli and Boston.


Quick Hits: Wainwright, LaRoche, Durbin, Orioles

The latest links from around MLB…

  • Agent Steve Hammond told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he expects to speak with Cardinals executives about the possibility of an extension for right-hander Adam Wainwright in Spring Training. Wainwright’s entering the final year of his contract with the Cardinals. Goold heard leading up to the Winter Meetings that the sides have not held “substantive” talks this offseason.
  • The Nationals made Adam LaRoche a two-year, $25MM contract offer, but they haven’t boosted their proposal, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post reports. It’s possible the Rangers or Orioles could get involved in the bidding for the free agent first baseman. 
  • Free agent reliever Chad Durbin is on his way to California to meet with interested teams, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). Durbin, 35, posted a 3.10 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 61 innings for the Braves this past season.
  • Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette will pursue free agent infielder Kelly Johnson. The Orioles have suggested they’re satisfied with internal second base options such as Brian Roberts, Alexi Casilla, Ryan Flaherty and Yamaico Navarro, but Dubroff suggests Johnson could be a “nice addition.”