The Nationals were expressing confidence during the Winter Meetings that they would be able to strike a contract with free agent slugger Adam LaRoche.
Over a week later no deal has been struck, but the Nats still feel pretty good about the whole thing.
According to beat writer Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, manager Davey Johnson said on Wednesday afternoon that he’s been seeing “positive signs” that an agreement will soon be reached.
LaRoche hit .271/.343/.510 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI in 154 games this summer for Washington and won a Gold Glove for his defense at first base. He began the offseason hoping for something fairly long-term after such a productive 2012, but the Nationals and other teams have only made him two-year proposals. Maybe that’ll change for him after a few more big-ticket free agents find landing spots.
LaRoche, who turned 33 last month, is a .268/.338/.482 career hitter in the major leagues.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.