The Washington Nationals are reportedly not close to signing their top free agent, first baseman Adam LaRoche. The Nationals made a $13.3 million qualifying offer to LaRoche in early November, which he turned down. While both sides are talking, LaRoche has made contact with other teams in hopes of getting the best offer he can.
LaRoche was signed to a two year $16 million contract by Washington in 2010. He missed most of that season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. LaRoche played in only 43 games and batted .172. Michael Morse played the bulk of the season at first and had his best year. Morse batted .303 with 31 home runs and 95 runs batted in.
LaRoche came back strong in 2011. He remained healthy and played in 154 games. LaRoche led the Nationals in home runs with 33 and RBI with 100. He batted .270 and was second on the team in hits with 155. This earned LaRoche his first NL Silver Slugger Award.
LaRoche was the best defensive first baseman in the NL, as well. He finished with a .995 fielding percentage and committed only seven errors. He increased his market value by winning a Gold Glove.
Though he may stay in Washington, if LaRoche were to leave, it would not be a surprise. The Nationals are his fifth team in nine years. In 2009, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. LaRoche spent the 2010 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. This means he played for four teams in two years.
At age 33, LaRoche is looking for a long term contract that will put him and his family in one city for the rest of his career. Though LaRoche has not said publicly what teams he is talking to, it is rumored that the Red Sox and Texas Rangers have shown the most interest in him. Both may be good fits in that LaRoche could be a designated hitter as well as play first. Boston and Texas, also, play their home games in parks which suit left handed hitters.
After a season in which Washington made its first playoff appearance, it would be a shame to lose LaRoche. He was the team’s best player in 2012. Off of the field, LaRoche was a leader in the clubhouse and helped NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper adjust to the Major Leagues. The Nationals are on the verge of great things and would like to have LaRoche help them get there.
However, this is America and LaRoche is a free agent. Washington is in the mix, but will have to come up with a good offer to keep him.
LaRoche has the freedom to sign with whomever and can take his time in doing it which is exactly what he is doing.