Washington is committed to overpaying veteran free agents this offseason and not surprisingly Adam LaRoche wants in on the action.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that LaRoche “has interest in playing for the Nationals and his representative is expected to meet with the club in the next couple of days.”
Ladson adds that the Nationals “have had their eyes on” LaRoche “for several months.”
Based on various reports and speculation, it sounds like the Nationals will look to trade Josh Willingham and then sign a veteran first baseman like LaRoche or perhaps Carlos Pena, to whom they’ve also been linked “for several months.”
Ladson writes that LaRoche “is coming off the best season of his career,” but in reality that’s far from the case. It’s true that he drove in a career-high 100 runs, but LaRoche had his lowest batting average (.261), on-base percentage (.320), and OPS (.788) since 2005 and the Diamondbacks declined his $7.5 million option for 2011.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.