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.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.