The White Sox are shopping first baseman/DH Adam LaRoche, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). Chicago is hoping to move some or all of the $13MM owed to the 36-year-old LaRoche in 2016 in order to free up payroll space to pursue a big bat.
The Sox thought they were getting such a hitter when they signed LaRoche to a two-year, $25MM contract last offseason. Unfortunately, the veteran proceeded to post the worst full season of his 12-year career, managing only a .207/.293/.340 slash line and 12 homers over 484 plate appearances. Despite moving to hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, LaRoche’s isolated power (ISO) dropped to a career-low .133, well below his lifetime .202 mark.
While LaRoche was still putting up good numbers as recently as 2014, it’s not uncommon for sluggers to experience sudden declines as they get deeper into their 30’s. It’s possible a team could be interested in LaRoche given his track record of success, yet it seems unlikely the White Sox will find a taker willing to absorb the entire $13MM salary hit. Chicago’s efforts are further complicated by the presence of several younger 1B/DH types (i.e. Chris Carter, Pedro Alvarez, John Jaso) on the market who’d come at a much lower price.
The Sox have just over $100MM in committed salaries and projected arbitration salaries on the books for 16 players in 2016. Assuming payroll stays roughly around last year’s $118.6MM figure, the Southsiders figure to make some cuts somewhere if they’re going to address their many needs all around the diamond. Moving LaRoche would allow the White Sox to move the defensively-challenged Melky Cabrera to DH, which could free up a regular outfield spot for Trayce Thompson or another addition in left.