Adam LaRoche Rumors
John Lackey's new slim physique marks one of the many signs that the Red Sox organization has taken a step toward rebuilding a positive culture within the clubhouse, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub req'd). The team has added new faces on the field (Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, among others) as well as brought familiar staff members home (former pitching coach John Farrell returns to Boston as the squad's manager) for what should be a vastly different season than years past. Here's the rest of the news and stories making headlines in both of the East Divisions.
- Jair Jurrjens' contract status continues to remain the status quo according to Orioles GM Dan Duquette, writes Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (on Twitter). "It's time to get it resolved," said Duquette as Jurrjens looks to rebound from a difficult 2012 season where he posted a 6.89 ERA with 3.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 48.1 innings.
- Yunel Escobar's arrival with the Rays organization has manager Joe Maddon excited about what the shortstop can provide the team this season, says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). After a suspension marred his final month with the Blue Jays, Escobar was dealt to the Marlins in the November mega deal before ending up in St. Petersburg.
- Adam LaRoche says the new free agent compensation system has hurt players like him and is currently keeping Kyle Lohse from finding an acceptable deal, writes Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com (Twitter links). "It shows how important it is to get rid of that rule," LaRoche said to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. "I don't know if that was something the union granted, or they overlooked and didn't realize it could backfire the way it did, or if they were willing to take that risk. In talking with the union a little bit, I think they would love to take that back." For a more in-depth look, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examines the system and explains why a qualifying offer can be a hindrance for a high-quality, but not elite, free agent.
Free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche made it clear this winter that he wanted stay in Washington and he hopes that he'll be a part of the Nationals for years to come. That desire manifested itself in a request for a three-year deal while the Nats insisted on a two-year pact instead. Beyond that, the veteran told reporters on a conference call this afternoon that he requested a no-trade clause in his contract, but was rebuffed as the front office cited club policy.
"Towards the end, it wasn't necessarily about the third year. It turned out to be more about the small things, whether it was trying to work out out the buyout or whether we could do a no-trade clause or something like that. To be honest, the no-trade clause was a hang up for a little while. You guys all know the direction that the team is going in is phenomenal. They could be really solid for a long time so I don't want to get traded. Apparently there's a no no-trade policy where they did it for [Jayson Werth] and they're going to shut it down and not give any more no-trade clauses. That's something that I had to work through," said the first baseman.
The Nationals were firm in their stance that they would not go to three years throughout the offseason and the SFX client said that he realized sometime last week that he would have to reach a compromise on contract length. LaRoche declined to get specifically identify the other teams that were interested in him and the kinds of offers that he was receiving, but he feels that he would have had more interest from clubs if he didn't have draft pick compensation tied to him through the qualifying offer system.
"I think that it did [affect me]. That's coming from people a lot smarter than I am that explained it to me. I think it affected a couple of other players worse than me, there are a lot of solid ballplayers out there still looking for a job," LaRoche said. "It definitely hindered some teams from going after some guys...I think there were two or three, maybe four teams out there that it did affect as far as teams that were interested me but didn't want to give up that pick."
Regardless of external factors that may have hurt his market, LaRoche says that he's glad to be back in D.C on a two-year deal with a mutual option for 2015. However, his return means that Mike Morse won't be starting at first and he doesn't figure to have another place to start with the three outfield positions also filled. LaRoche knows that Morse could potentially be moved for impact pieces, giving him a chance to thrive elsewhere, but he "selfishly" hopes that Morse remains in Washington.
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.
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.
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.
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..
- Based on comments Epstein made on WEEI's Hot Stove Show (audio link), it doesn't sound like the Cubs will be targeting impact players like Michael Bourn, Rafael Soriano, Kyle Lohse, and Adam LaRoche since they are tied to draft pick compensation. Epstein explained that the changes to the draft and international spending mean that high draft picks are more valuable than ever, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that Reds GM Walt Jocketty expects a decision from Scott Rolen on whether he will play in 2013 in the next seven-to-ten days. Fay personally expects Rolen to call it a career.
- Earlier today, Jocketty said that he is looking to sign Mat Latos and Homer Bailey to multiyear deals.
- The Brewers still haven't made their signing of left-hander Mike Gonzalez official, but that's likely to happen on Friday, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Gonzalez agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal plus incentives late last week.
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:
- The Red Sox should be hesitant about parting with their second round draft choice as compensation to sign Adam LaRoche, according to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Britton points out Boston's second round draft pick will be the 44th overall because the free agent compensation rule changes have reduced the number of supplemental first round selections. Joey Votto and highly-regarded Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos have been tabbed at number 44 in past drafts.
- It is looking like the Marlins will start Donovan Solano at second base and Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop, tweets the Sun Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez.
- In a separate tweet, Rodriguez doesn't see any major additions to the Marlins' bullpen.
- Don't expect the Braves to address their opening in left field with Delmon Young, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy writes the only lock for the Brewers' 2013 starting rotation is Yovani Gallardo and breaks down the candidates competing for the other four spots.
- The kidnapping threat faced by Venezuelan MLB players in their homeland and how they deal with it is outlined in an excellent piece by Didier Morais for ESPNBoston.com.
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?
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.
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.
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.