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.
Despite the earlier rain, the All-Star Game got underway on time and following the usual pregame festivities Max Scherzer took the hill to face the American League.
Scherzer did great in the first inning, striking out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve and then, following a walk to Mike Trout and giving up a single to J.D. Matinez, retired Jose Ramirez on a weak popup. Scherzer was cooing with gas: the reigning Cy Young winner had not thrown a pitch as fast as 98 m.p.h. all season, but he threw three of those during his scoreless first.
Chris Sale‘s work in the bottom half was more about nasty stuff than mere heat. Following a leadoff single allowed to Javier Baez he got Nolan Arenado to fly out to left, struck out Paul Goldschmidt on a nasty slider and then got Freddie Freeman out via a fly to left.
Aaron Judge led off the second. The same Aaron Judge someone wrote today could be trade bait if the Yankees felt so inclined. Which, um, OK, that was dumb anyway, but it looked even dumber when Judge muscled Scherzer’s second pitch — a letter-high fastball — out to left field with many, many feet to spare for a homer.
Scherzer got the rest of the A.L. side, but the damage had been done. The American League leads 1-0 after an inning and a half.