Nationals’ top priority is re-signing Adam LaRoche

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Not that it should come as any sort of surprise, but Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM on Sunday morning that his “number one” priority this winter is to re-sign slugger Adam LaRoche.

Second priority is adding a reliable starting pitcher, either through a trade or a free agent acquisition.

LaRoche, 33, posted a .271/.343/.510 batting line with 33 home runs and 100 RBI in 154 games this past season for the NL East champions. He also won Gold Glove honors for his defense at first base.

LaRoche turned down a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Nats last week because he wants something of the multi-year variety. And he should have little trouble finding it.

Deep-pocketed teams like the Rangers and Red Sox have already expressed interest.

It looks like Bryce Harper cheated in the Home Run Derby

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I just saw Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs refer to this as “BryceGhazi” and we’re not gonna top that, so we shouldn’t even try.

The controversy: Bryce Harper, in defeating Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby last night, didn’t follow the rules. Or else his dad, who was pitching to him didn’t. The rule in question is that the pitcher has to wait for the last hit ball to land before delivering the next one. Given that the Derby is a timed event, such a thing matters, of course, because the faster you get pitches the faster you can hit them out of the park. At least if you don’t get too tired first.

Harper’s dad was a bit quick with the final three pitches in the final round, allowing Harper to get to 18, tying Kyle Schwarber before winning it outright with his 30 seconds bonus time. Watch as Harper waves for his dad to deliver the pitch while the last ball is still flying:

I’m not gonna argue that he didn’t do it. I will say, however, that no one should really care. Mostly because it’s the Home Run Derby and it doesn’t matter a bit. Getting mad about this is a half-step removed from getting mad that Blackjack Mulligan used a foreign object to gouge Pedro Morales’ eyes during a house show in 1976. Yes, it’s true, but c’mon, we’re entertaining people here.

I have not seen any suggestion that Kyle Schwarber is upset, but if he later says he is I’ll simultaneously understand yet still roll my eyes. I doubt MLB will do anything here or issue a statement of any kind. If it does, I’ll roll my eyes harder. Because, I repeat: It’s the Home Run Derby.