Adam LaRoche accepts two-year deal from Nationals

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Adam LaRoche was holding out for three years and the Nationals were steadfast in sticking with a two-year offer. Today the free agent first baseman decided that was good enough, as Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that LaRoche has agreed to a two-year deal to return to Washington.

Having draft pick compensation attached to his free agency no doubt hurt LaRoche, who couldn’t secure a three-year deal and seemingly had trouble generating many two-year offers despite hitting .271 with 33 homers and an .853 OPS last season.

Now that LaRoche is back in the fold the Nationals are expected to shop Michael Morse, who had been slated to replace him at first base if needed. Instead with LaRoche at first base, Denard Span is center field, and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield corners there’s no room for Morse to play following a season in which he hit .291 with 18 homers and a .791 OPS in 102 games.

Morse is three years younger than LaRoche and out-played him in 2010 and 2011, but he’s also just one year from free agency and should have some decent trade value.

UPDATE: Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports that LaRoche’s two-year deal is worth $24 million guaranteed, which includes a $2 million buyout of a third-year team option.

Carlos Martínez to work out of Cardinals’ bullpen for rest of season

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When Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez returns from the disabled list, likely some time next week, he will pitch out of the bullpen, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Martínez has been on the disabled list since late July with a strained right shoulder. The plan is still for Martínez to start in 2019 and beyond.

GM John Mozeliak said, “If you’re going to go down that starting path and you’re starting at ground zero, the likelihood of him being back would be sometime in mid-September. And we’ve done that twice this year and ended up in the same place after a few starts.”

Martínez, 26, has a 3.41 ERA and a 98/49 K/BB ratio in 100 1/3 innings across 18 starts this season. The Cardinals’ rotation currently features Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Luke Weaver, and Austin Gomber.

The Cardinals entered play Monday 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot in the National League, so adding Martínez to the bullpen — or, subtracting him from the rotation, depending on how you look at it — could make a significant impact on the club’s playoff chances.