Adam LaRoche and the Nationals made things official this afternoon, as Washington announced a two-year contract with the veteran first baseman.
He’ll get $7 million in 2011 and $8 million in 2012, and the deal also includes a $10 million mutual option or $1 million buyout for 2012. In other words, he’s guaranteed $16 million for two seasons.
Washington has made upgrading the defense a priority this offseason and going from Adam Dunn to LaRoche at first base will definitely help the team’s run prevention in a big way, but the downgrade offensively is likely even bigger.
During the past three seasons LaRoche has hit .269 with 75 homers and an .823 OPS, while Dunn has hit .255 with 116 homers and a .906 OPS. Of course, the price tags are also much different, as Dunn signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.