Adam LaRoche opens up about retirement, Drake, sex-slavery in Asia and other things


Last month Adam LaRoche’s retirement distracted baseball for a week. The circumstances of it — he was asked not to bring his son Drake to the clubhouse all the time — were strange and his decision seemed remarkably abrupt. People spent so much time focusing on the Drake LaRoche part of it all that they didn’t really think too hard of the Adam LaRoche part of it. What makes that guy tick that he’d walk away from $13 million over such an odd little dispute?

Today, in ESPN the Magazine, Tim Keown takes us into LaRoche’s world. And it’s a weird world. On the one hand there are a lot of the trappings we’ve come to expect from an American ballplayer from a decidedly non-urban area. Bow hunting, family, friendships with country singers and “Duck Dynasty” cast members and the like. A quote about how the clubhouse is sacred because “there’s no other workplace where you walk in and guys are slapping each other in the nuts and saying the stuff they do,” which I figure is a good thing, but who knows?

Then there is . . . the unexpected:

Then there’s this: LaRoche, along with Brewers pitcher Blaine Boyer, spent 10 days in November in Southeast Asian brothels, wearing a hidden camera and doing undercover work to help rescue underage sex slaves. All of which raises a question: After 12 years in the big leagues, the endless days and nights in dugouts and clubhouses, how did LaRoche’s nearly cinematic level of nonconformity escape detection?

The details of that operation are in the story. It’s definitely something.

Aside from just that, the whole piece has a McNulty-from-the-Wire “who the f*** was I chasing?” air to it. And there are great details, such as the fact that, after Ken Williams told LaRoche to “dial back” the presence of Drake in the clubhouse, LaRoche and his buddy Boyer went over his decision to retire “with the help of a bottle of Crown Royal . . . while Boyer cross-examined.” To be a fly on that wall.

Fascinating piece about a guy who, even if we still don’t fully understand him or his decision, is pretty interesting all the same.

Report: Gerrit Cole has seven-year, $245 million offer from Yankees

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Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.

While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.

Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.

Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.

For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.