Just moments after the the end of the Washington Nationals' 2014 season, first baseman Adam LaRoche was asked what the immediate future held for him?
"I will do nothing," LaRoche said after Game 4 of the NLDS in AT&T Park. "I have no idea what direction we go from here, but I know I'll go sit in a tree stand and think about it."
"It usually clears up a lot of things, doesn't it?" a reporter asked.
"It sure does," LaRoche said.
What "seems" clear, and what the 34-year-old first baseman has acknowledged, is that his time in the nation's capital has come to an end.
In an post-elimination article last week LaRoche said as much, telling the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore that in his mind it all depends on the direction the Nationals take with Ryan Zimmerman:
"[W]e just have to see what they’re going to do with Zim. I think that’s probably what it will come down to. He’s our best hitter. He needs to be in the lineup. If he needs to move over to first to make that possible, then that kind of weeds me out, and I move on. Which is fine. It’s not the first time I moved to a different team."
There was a $15M mutual option for 2015 included in the 2-year/$24M deal LaRoche signed in January of 2013, or a $2M buyout if the Nationals decide to move on.
The Nats need a spot for Ryan Zimmerman, who just finished the first year of the 6-year/$100M extension he signed that pays him $14M a year for the next four seasons and $18M in 2019 with a mutual option at $18M in 2020.
Can the Nationals rely on Zimmerman though?
While dealing with thumb and hamstring injuries, the Nationals' recently-turned-30-year-old infielder, who has dealt with serious shoulder/throwing issues for several seasons now, was limited to just 64 games this season.
Who plays first next season if LaRoche is gone and Zimmerman can't stay on the field?
FBB's Jim Meyerriecks looked at the in-house options in his post on potentially picking up LaRoche's option for 2015.
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Tyler Moore? The 27-going-on-28-year-old infielder/outfielder made 17 starts at first this season.
In limited action in his third major league campaign, Moore put up a .231/.300/.385 line with two doubles and four home runs in 42 games and 100 plate appearances.
At Triple-A Syracuse, Moore posted a .265/.367/.434 line in 84 games and 354 PAs over which he hit 21 doubles and 10 HRs.
Matt Skole, the 25-year-old, 2011 5th Round pick out of Georgia Tech, was the highest ranked first baseman in the organization on Baseball America's list of the Nationals' Top 10 prospects heading into the 2014 campaign.
Coming off a lost season in 2013 during which he underwent Tommy John and wrist surgery, Skole put up a .241/.352/.399 line with 29 doubles and 14 HRs in 132 games and 544 PAs at Double-A Harrisburg.
Steven Souza, Jr. the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year for 2014, played a full season at first base... in 2011 at High-A Potomac.
Someone is sure to say "Jayson Werth" too. Maybe one day, but next season?
Can the Nats, who are expected to contend for another postseason berth, take the risk of having to rely on any of the three top first base options if Zimmerman can't stay on the field?
If they plan on going with Zimmerman at first next season do they have to find a potential everyday replacement at first who is capable of filling in and producing if necessary?
Last we saw Zimmerman at first, he came on as a defensive replacement at first base in the next-to-last game of the regular season. In the top of the ninth, with the Nationals up 5-0 on the Miami Marlins, Drew Storen gave up back-to-back one-out singles, but induced a grounder to first off Enrique Hernandez's bat that could have started a game-ending DP.
Zimmerman approached the spinning ball as if he was going to go to second to start a double play, but had the ball bounce off the flat side of his first baseman's glove.
"It's funky spin," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said. "You have all the time in the world and it's bouncing all over the place, and jumping all over the place. It's not easy and it just came up and hit his heel. I've seen a lot of those from the other side at third, they're not fun, because you don't know which direction it's going to go."
Zimmerman has seen plenty of them from the left side of the diamond too, but he still hasn't seen too many at first base. Is he ready for an everyday role at first base?