LaRoche, Nationals make progress towards deal, but…

Washington Nationals News

LaRoche could explore the free agent market after the World Series

The Washington Nationals and first baseman Adam LaRoche continue to discuss a long-term deal. Reportedly,  a deal is not imminent but both sides are working toward an agreement. LaRoche just completed a career season in which he hit 33 home runs, and 100 RBI and a .853 OPS. which put him among the elite first baseman in the National League.

The Nationals (95-67) had a breakout season winning the National League East by four games over the Atlanta Braves, and LaRoche was a significant contributor on the field and in the clubhouse.

“He’s the catalyst,” shortstop Ian Desmond said at the end of the season. The Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

“He’s a guy we really like,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He fits in great in the lineup and in the club. We’ve been talking, and we’re going to continue to talk.”

LaRoche has a mutual $10 million option for the 2013 season which he has stated he will decline. One look at the free-agent first baseman available this off-season and it is clearly evident that LaRoche has leverage.  After Nick Swisher, who is said to be holding out for a Jayson Werth type deal, the list gets thin quickly.

The list includes Carlos Lee, James Loney, Mike Napoli ( a catcher who happens to play some first base) , Carlos Pena, Ty Wigginton, Lyle Overbay and Casey Kotchman.

LaRoche could sign a multi-year deal from the Nationals or another team on the free-agent market. The Nationals have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to strike a deal with LaRoche,  before he can explore the free agent market.

The finish line is quickly approaching for a deal to be completed with Washington. Although LaRoche doesn’t feel the pressure of a deadline.

“I don’t know that it matters to me at all,” LaRoche said. “I would think for the team, it could potentially make it a little harder [if they wait]. On my end, I’m not in panic to get it done by any deadline.”

Teams looking for a free-agent first baseman include the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox present a most interesting dilemma should they decide to pursue LaRoche.

The Red Sox are in a stronger position than most teams after being relieved of $260 million worth of future salaries in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, that sent Adrian GonzalezJosh Beckett,Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles for James Loney and minor league prospects Allen WebsterRubby De La RosaJerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus.

Money won’t be an issue should the Red Sox decide they want to sign LaRoche.

LaRoche would be a highly sought after player on the open market and the clock is ticking.

 


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