Adam LaRoche has seen the reports about the Nationals’ pursuit of Prince Fielder, but the would-be starting first baseman told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he understands if the team tries to replace him:
All I can tell you is, I don’t hold any grudges either way. If [Fielder doesn’t sign with the Nationals] and I’m the guy, I’ll be out there every day and [will] do everything I possibly can. If it does [happen] and I need to move on, hey, it’s a business move. They are trying to put the best possible team on the field. I think they feel like their time is now to get to the top of the division. Hopefully, I’ll be a part of it. If not, that’s life.
It probably helps LaRoche’s attitude that he’ll be paid $8 million in 2012 either way, but he’s also coming off shoulder surgery that cost him most of last season and is no doubt focused on simply getting his own career back on track. He played just 43 games, hitting .172 with three homers before going under the knife in June.
Ladson speculates that even if the Nationals do sign Fielder they would hold on to LaRoche until spring training, so he could show interested teams that his shoulder is healthy. In the meantime he’s “feeling great” and has been throwing and hitting for several weeks. Presumably the Nationals would have to eat some of his $8 million salary to move LaRoche regardless of when it happens.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.
Update (5:20 PM EST): It’s a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he makes the major league roster, Saltalamacchia will earn $1.25 million with an additional $250,000 available through incentives.
The Blue Jays are close to a deal with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting.
Saltalamacchia, 31, hit a meager .171/.284/.346 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 292 plate appearances with the Tigers this past season. With Russell Martin getting regular playing time behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will serve as his understudy, pushing A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol down on the depth chart.
The veteran catcher isn’t far removed from being a productive backstop. He had an .805 OPS in 70 games with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 with an .804 OPS in 121 games.