White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche announced his sudden retirement today, citing an undisclosed personal issue.
Colleen Kane of the Chicago Trubune reports that LaRoche’s teammates “asked him to sleep on it, but he’s confident in the decision” to call it a career after a dozen seasons in the majors.
LaRoche is under contract for $13 million this season as part of a two-year, $25 million deal signed as a free agent last winter. If he’s indeed retiring LaRoche would be forfeiting that money. He struggled in 2015, hitting .207 with 12 homers and a .634 OPS in 127 games, but there have been several stories this spring about LaRoche and the White Sox expressing optimism in his ability to bounce back offensively at age 36.
While never an All-Star pick, LaRoche was a consistently above-average first baseman who hit .260 with 255 homers and a .798 OPS in 1,605 games for the Braves, Nationals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, and White Sox. He had nine different 20-homer seasons, including two years with more than 30 homers, and posted an OPS better than the MLB average in all but two years.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.