The Nationals have the option of moving Michael Morse over to first base following the acquisition of Denard Span this week, but manager Davey Johnson really wants the club to re-sign Adam LaRoche.
Per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Johnson hosted a charity event last night to benefit Lighthouse Central Florida, a non-profit organization offering services to people affected by vision loss and blindness. Many big names were in attendance for the event, including the likes of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson and Larry The Cable Guy (?), but Johnson was especially interested to see LaRoche, who made the trip from Kansas. The Nats’ skipper has kept in touch with LaRoche during the offseason, even buying some beef from his cattle ranch, and told him to “bring his pen” when he came to the charity event last night.
“I wanted him here to sign the damn contract,” Johnson said. “I’m eating his beef, and I wanted to put an order in for next year, too. After we win the World Series.”
Can we make “eating his beef” into a thing? It should really be a thing.
LaRoche and general manager Mike Rizzo declined to comment on any specifics regarding negotiations, but Johnson yelled into the microphone for them to “GET TOGETHER” when speaking on stage. So far the Nationals have been unwilling to offer more than a two-year deal while the Red Sox, Rangers and Orioles have been mentioned as possible alternatives for LaRoche.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.