Report: Nationals sign Adam LaRoche to two-year deal

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It was more of a matter of “when” than “if,” but according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network, the Nationals have signed Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract. He’s expected to take a physical on Thursday in order to finalize the deal.

Terms aren’t yet known, but Jen Royle of MASNSports.com reported last week that the two sides were discussing a two-year deal worth $8-9 million per season.

LaRoche batted .261/.320/.468 with 25 home runs, 100 RBI and a 788 OPS with the Diamondbacks last season. While the 31-year-old first baseman has quietly hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last seven seasons, that feat doesn’t look nearly as impressive when the man he is replacing at first base, Adam Dunn, has slugged at least 38 home runs per season during the very same timespan.

At the very least, LaRoche figures to be better than Dunn defensively and will be a lefty bat to balance Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman in the Nats’ lineup.

UPDATE: Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com hears that the contract is believed to be “in the neighborhood” of $16 million, so not far off from the range I mentioned above. I’m at a loss to understand why the Nationals felt compelled to give him a two-year contract. It’s not like there are many teams left that have a need for a first baseman.

UPDATE II: The contract actually includes a $10 million mutual option for 2013. Yes, a third year. Regardless, he is still guaranteed $16 million. LaRoche will make $15 million over the first two years while the option has a $1 million buyout.

Dave Dombrowski gives John Farrell a vote of confidence

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Earlier, we learned via Tuesday’s report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Red Sox manager John Farrell could find himself on the hot seat given the team’s slow start and a couple of incidents with Dustin Pedroia and Drew Pomeranz.

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal spoke to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who gave Farrell a vote of confidence. Dombrowski said, “We all have our pluses and minuses. But when I see some of the things we’ve talked about, I don’t know how you say that’s John Farrell’s fault. It’s not his fault that we’ve scuffled to pitch in the fifth spot with [Kyle] Kendrick and [Hector] Velazquez. The injury factors. Really in many ways, I tip my hat to our guys, led by John, that we’re in the position that we’re in right now. We’re three and a half out on May 24. There’s a long time to go. We haven’t gotten buried.”

Dombrowski added, “He’s our manager. He’s done fine. If I didn’t think that, then he wouldn’t be in his role.”

Farrell is signed through 2018 as the Red Sox exercised his ’18 option in December. That doesn’t mean the Red Sox can’t let him go, but given the lack of realistic options to step in and fill Farrell’s shoes and Dombrowski’s vote of confidence, it looks like the skipper has job security for now.

Jacoby Ellsbury diagnosed with concussion, neck sprain after leaving game

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The Yankees announced that Jacoby Ellsbury left the game with a concussion and a neck sprain after making a great catch, crashing into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium to snag an Alcides Escobar fly ball for the first out of the first inning Wednesday night against the Royals.

Ellsbury was shaken up after the play, requiring the attention of manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue.

Ellsbury initially stayed in the game and finished the top of the first inning. However, Aaron Hicks replaced Ellsbury in center field to start the top of the second inning. Ellsbury was batting sixth and did not have an at-bat prior to exiting.