All nine players, including the Washington Nationals' Adam LaRoche, who received qualifying offers from their 2012 employers rejected those 1-year/$13.3M dollar deals this afternoon. By making the offers, each of the major league teams guaranteed they would receive a compensatory draft pick between the 1st and 2nd Rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft should the free agents sign elsewhere this winter. The qualifying offers were for one year at the average salary of the top 125 contracts in the majors. LaRoche and the other free agents are taking the risk that they can find longer, or more lucrative deals on the market than they were offered.
The Nats' 33-year-old first baseman declined the option attached to the 2-year/$16M dollar deal he signed with Washington in January of 2011 after two seasons in D.C. in which he put up a combined .251/.331/.457 line with 39 doubles, 36 HRs and 115 RBIs in 197 games and 824 PAs for the Nationals. LaRoche played just 43 of those games in 2011, however, with a torn labrum sapping his power and eventually forcing him from the lineup. After surgery ended his first season in the nation's capital prematurely, LaRoche returned at full-strength in 2012 and put together a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger-worthy .271/.343/.510 season in which he hit 35 doubles, a career-high 33 HRs and was worth a career-best +3.8 fWAR heading into free agency.
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on Thursday that he thought LaRoche was the right fit for the Nationals' lineup, but the Nats do have options should the veteran of nine MLB seasons decide to sign with what would be his sixth major league team. Both sides have expressed a desire to work something out this winter, with LaRoche telling the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, "'I would like to stick around for a few years. Whether that’s two or four, that’ll be up to these guys. I would like to stay.'"
When the Nats' general manager spoke to reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, this week at the GM Meetings in California, he reiterated that the two sides continue to talk. "'We've touched base a couple times since the season ended,'" Rizzo told reporters, "... and we continue to talk. We'll see where it leads us.'" FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi wrote yesterday that the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox had also expressed interest in LaRoche, so the Nationals may have serious competition for the left-handed hitting and throwing first baseman's services this winter.