FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote back on November 4th that though both the Washington Nationals and Adam LaRoche wanted to work out a deal, the Nats to that point had, "...been reluctant to offer him more than two years, according to major-league sources." The 33-year-old declined a $10M dollar option, turned down the Nationals' 1-year/$13.3M dollar qualifying offer and hit free agency looking for a multi-year deal after a .271/.343/.510, +3.8 fWAR 2012 campaign in which the nine-year MLB veteran hit 35 doubles and 33 HRs in 154 games and 647 PAs in the second year of the 2-year/$16M dollar deal he signed with Washington in January of 2011.
Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell spoke to both the Nationals' GM, who called LaRoche one of, "... of the most consistent players that there are," when he signed him in '11, and Davey Johnson for an article on Sunday night and wrote that ideally, "The Nats’ dream is that LaRoche actually re-signs — but for the two-year deal that is almost certainly as far as they’ll go." In a recent MLB Network Radio interview, when Davey Johnson was asked what the no.1 priority for the Nats was this winter he said, ".. the one thing we need over the winter? Adam LaRoche. We need him back."
In the Washington Post's Mr. Boswell's article, however, Johnson asks the first baseman indirectly just what he needs to return to the nation's capital while joking about the Fort Scott, Kansas native's other life as a rancher. "'How much feed do you need to buy?'" Johnson asks, "'Another $25 million ought to do it. What does he need three or four years [on a contract] for? Let’s go, man.'" The general manager and skipper both want LaRoche back, but, the WaPost writer added in a chat with readers this afternoon, Johnson, "... said about 10 times how much he likes LaRoche," before explaining the Nationals' position:
"We love him. But this is where the business end comes into play. You can hurt your organization with a deal that costs a whole lot of money and hurts the development process. I think we're going to get him signed. But it's one of those tough decisions...Mike sticks to his guns. And he always has (other) plans and options in mind...We need to draw a line and know when we're done with Adam (one way or the other.)"
Is that line drawn at 2-years? Would another mutual option for a third year get it done? Elsewhere in Monday's chat, the WaPost's Nats writer says if it was up to him, " Two years, yes. Four years, no way. And I have to admit I think three years is a 'No.' But three is 'thinkable.' But it sure doesn't seem like the Nats are thinking it."
Should they allow LaRoche to leave the Nationals will receive a compensatory draft pick since they made a qualifying offer, and they believe they have depth at first base and other options in the organization to compensate for the loss of LaRoche as Rizzo explained in an MLB Network Radio interview earlier this month:
"We can shift Michael Morse there to his most comfortable defensive position where he plays defense very well. Not Adam LaRoche-caliber, but very well. We also have a young kid that's primarily a first baseman in Tyler Moore. We've got a left-handed bat in the farm system named [Matt] Skole [who] probably profiles as a left-handed power bat at first base. So we're very deep there, but we would like to get Adam under contract."
Will the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox or another of the reportedly interested teams give LaRoche more than the two years the Nationals appear to be offering? Will LaRoche, who's stated publicly his desire to return to the nation's capital take a 2-year/$12-13M dollar deal to help the Nationals and Davey Johnson attempt to duplicate and perhaps surpass the success they had as a team in 2012? Will they decide one way or another soon so that the other "metaphorical" Hot Stove dominoes can start falling into place?