The Nationals dropped the series opener against the Yankees last night in D.C., but they remain one of the most interesting stories in baseball this season.
Adam LaRoche has played a big part in the Nationals’ early success, hitting .261 with 11 homers, 42 RBI and an .848 OPS through 56 games after being limited to just 43 games last year due to shoulder surgery.
The veteran first baseman made an appearance on NBC Sports Talk last night, where he talked about what he sees in 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper, the possibility of playing in the postseason and whether the Nationals should shut down Stephen Strasburg if they are making a run. It’s not too hard to guess what he thinks about that last one.
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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.