As the Nationals begin to shift their focus away from their ghastly Game 5 loss and toward the offseason, one priority will be Adam LaRoche. The Nationals and their first baseman opened initial contract discussions roughly two weeks ago, and as they head into the offseason both sides want to stay together for the near future.
“He’s a guy we really like,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He fits in great in the lineup and in the club. We’ve been talking, and we’re going to continue to talk.”
LaRoche, 32, and the Nationals share a mutual option for the 2013 worth $10 million. But for LaRoche to remain with the Nationals, they would have arrive at an agreement for more than one year. After LaRoche hit 33 home runs with 100 RBIs and an .853 OPS, he could command a multi-year contract on the open market if he bypassed the option year.
But LaRoche wants to stay, and the Nationals want to bring him back. LaRoche adored his teammates and loved playing in Washington. Rizzo sees him as an ideal fit in the clubhouse and as a strong defensive first baseman. The Nationals will have an exclusive negotiating window with LaRoche until five days after the World Series.
LaRoche is one of the most popular players inside the Nationals’ clubhouse. “He’s the heart and soul of this team,” pinch-hitting specialist Chad Tracy said. “A leader in the clubhouse. His numbers speak for themselves. Tremendous defensively. He’s a stud.” Players and coaches viewed him as their most valuable player this season. He stayed healthy all year and carried the Nationals’ offense for stretches at a time.
“He’s the catalyst,” Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. “[Jayson Werth] does a lot. [Ryan Zimmerman] does a lot. All the other guys, [Mark DeRosa]. But Rochy’s that steady hand. He’s really, really, really respected in here, and we would definitely miss him.”