The Washington Nationals made a qualifying offer to Adam LaRoche, guaranteeing compensation in the form of a draft pick between the 1st and 2nd Rounds of next June's Draft should the 33-year-old first baseman leave the Nats via free agency after two years in the nation's capital. The Nationals and LaRoche have talked for some time now about a deal that would keep the left-handed hitting and throwing Gold Glove winner in Washington, but he is expected to reject the 1-year/$13.3M dollar qualifying offer with a longer deal thought to be out there for the nine-year MLB veteran after his strong .271/.343/.510, 35 double, 33 HR, +3.8 fWAR season in D.C.
Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo wrote this past Sunday that he saw the Red Sox, Orioles and Mariners exploring the possibility of signing LaRoche. ESPN.com's Keith Law listed LaRoche 16th on his list of the Top 50 Free Agents available this winter in an article last week, but added after praising the first baseman's work this season that he'd prefer to have LaRoche back on a one-year deal, but, "... would be content with two years and would jump into the Potomac River before giving him four."
When FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote last week about what Washington might do at first base in 2013, he noted that the Nats would prefer to have LaRoche return, but reported that from what he'd heard, "... the Nationals to this point have been reluctant to offer [LaRoche] more than two years." In a report from the GM Meetings in California last night, Mr. Rosenthal's colleague at FOX, Jon Morosi, wrote that there's enough interest in LaRoche that he's expected to reject the Nats' qualifying offer.
LaRoche, according to the FOXSports.com reporter, "... is being pursued by the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers, in addition to the Nationals," and now, "... appears headed for a multiyear contract — in Washington or elsewhere." Nats' GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak on Wednesday night, telling the Times' Nationals beat reporter that the attention from opposing teams might not be a bad thing for the Nats. "'I think it'll show him and I what his value is in the market,'" Rizzo's quoted explaining, "'We'll see if there's a fit for him with us.'"
The Nationals' general manager was clear, however, that the team continues to talk to LaRoche and values, "'... how he balances the lineup, the type of defense he gives us, and his leadership,'" making him, "'... an important guy for us to lock up.'" The Nats signed LaRoche to a 2-year/$16M dollar deal in January of 2011 which included an option for 2013 that would have paid the first baseman $10M dollars, but LaRoche declined the option and is now expected to decline the qualifying offer the Nationals extended as he goes for a multi-year deal.