An official decision won’t have to be made until later this week, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks are unlikely to exercise their $7.5 million option on first baseman Adam LaRoche for 2011.
Back in September both LaRoche and the team expressed interest in working out a contract extension, but that was before Kevin Towers took over for Jerry Dipoto as general manager and now Piecoro writes that the Diamondbacks are likely “to direct their available revenue toward pitching and the bench.”
LaRoche hit .261/.320/.468 with 25 homers, 37 doubles, and 100 RBIs this season, more or less duplicating his career marks while earning $4.5 million. If the Diamondbacks decline his $7.5 million option they’ll owe him a $1.5 million buyout.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.