Pursuing a first baseman to replace Adam Dunn, who went to the White Sox earlier this winter has been a top priority for the Nationals. Adam LaRoche and the club agreed yesterday on a two year contract worth a guaranteed $16 million. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has the specifics of the deal, that includes a mutual option for 2013.
LaRoche will make $7 million in 2011, followed by $8 million in 2012. The option can be bought out by the Nationals for $1 million. If picked up the Nationals would pay LaRoche $10 million in 2013. The total value of the contract could reach $25 million.
His 2010 reclamation contract with the Diamondbacks was intended to rebuild his value after bouncing from Pittsburgh to Boston to Atlanta in 2009. LaRoche had other options in 2010. Reportedly, LaRoche turned down a two-year contract with the Giants who went on to win the World Series.
He enjoyed a good season in the desert, but not a great one, even while hitting the traditional measures for quality offensive performance with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs. But his batting line was disappointing, especially in Chase Field, which has the ability to inflate batting stats. His line of .261/.320/.468/.788 was tied with Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins for 14th best among qualifying first basemen in Major League Baseball.
After Derrek Lee signed with Baltimore, LaRoche and the Nats were effectively left for each other. The deal will stabilize the position for Washington until they can develop better alternatives through their farm system. Bryce Harper may very well be that in-house option.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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