Davey Johnson has been open all winter about his desire to have Adam LaRoche back at first base and hitting in the middle of the order in D.C. in 2013 and he told reporters this afternoon that if it's up to him, LaRoche will be back in the nation's capital to follow up on his .271/.343/.510, 35 double, 33 HR, +3.8 fWAR 2012 campaign. In a gem-filled press conference today at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, the Nats' 69-year-old skipper said he'd go get LaRoche himself if he had to:
"Adam LaRoche is gonna come back. If I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will." -- Davey— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) December 4, 2012
LaRoche wants to return to Washington, but the negotations between the two sides have stalled, with the Nats only willing to offer a 2-year deal and the free agent first baseman looking for at least three years on the market this winter. The obvious compromise, as FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi) pointed out this afternoon would seem to be a 2-year deal with an option for a third similar to (but undoubtedly more lucrative than) the 2-year/$16M dollar deal LaRoche signed with the Nats in January of 2011:
#Nats are at two years with Adam LaRoche. A vesting option for a third would be enough to get it done. And that seems fair.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 4, 2012
According to D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, however, the Nationals have drawn the line at 2-years, as the general manager reiterated when he met with reporters this afternoon:
Rizzo holding firm with 2-year offer for LaRoche: "Our deal is where it's at, and I think we're going to stay there." #Nats— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) December 4, 2012
Signing LaRoche, of course, will likely end Michael Morse's time in Washington, as the Nats' skipper admitted this afternoon, telling reporters, including MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko (@MASNKolko) that it's difficult to imagine the Nationals keeping both players. "Davey said LaRoche/Morse decision is up to GM Mike Rizzo, but would be tough for #Nats to keep both, 'It's hard to start sharing roles.'"
"'You know, it's tougher because once you have everyday players that have established their credentials in the major leagues and are pretty good, it's hard to start sharing roles," NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman quotes Johnson explaining, "But that's part of the game of baseball. We might have to make a move if we get too heavy that way." With the addition of Denard Span, now Haren and the potential return of LaRoche, the Nats' skipper sees big things happening in what is likely going to be Johnson's last year on the bench in the majors. The Nationals' manager is setting his sights high:
Davey Johnson on 2013; "World Series or bust. That's probably the slogan this year."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 4, 2012
• FWIW: Minnesota Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire was on the MLB Network Radio show Inside Pitch this afternoon, and he spoke to hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern, offering the following scouting report on the former Twins' and future Nats' center fielder Denard Span's work in the outfield:
Gardenhire: "[Span] played deep. I don't think he was as good coming in as he was going back, but that's because he played deep. He didn't like to dive. Denard, he slides. But he's not one of these guys that dives straight out and we always said, 'You know, there's some of those balls you can probably get to if you dove,' but, you know what he played. He came every day to play and he got it done. I think side-to-side he's fine. We actually at one point had him in right field and I told people, 'He might be the best right fielder I've seen play the game. That was because he covered so much ground going toward that line in the corner and he was left-handed, which was unusual to watch him to go to that corner. But out in center field, he's been there his whole life, he saw the field, he paid attention, you didn't have to move him, he knew all those things..."