The Nationals made a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer to Adam LaRoche, ensuring the club will receive draft-pick compensation if the Gold Glove first baseman signs with another team in free agency.
The Nationals did not make a qualifying offer to starter Edwin Jackson, which means they will receive nothing if he signs elsewhere. The decision seemingly cuts the cord between the Nationals and Jackson – if they do not want to risk paying him $13.3 million for one year, they will not be competitive for his services on the free agent market.
LaRoche will have one week to accept or decline the offer. Given his preference for long-term security and a 33-homer, 100-RBI season that warrants a multiyear deal, he will likely decline the offer. The offer does not preclude the Nationals from signing LaRoche to a contract of any length either this week or after he declines the offer.
If LaRoche, 32, signs with another team this winter, the Nationals will receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round, and the team that signs him will lose a first-round pick.
On Thursday morning, LaRoche declined his half of a one-year, $13.3 million mutual option for the 2013 season. Still, LaRoche would like to remain with the Nationals. The sides have discussed a new contract since the end of the regular season.
Jackson, 29, went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA this season, his first in Washington. He signed a one-year, $11 million deal with the Nationals in late January with the hope of setting himself up for a more lucrative, multiyear contract next season.
Without Jackson in the fold, the Nationals will likely turn to the free agent market to fill out their rotation. They would like to add a veteran to match with their four young starters. Kyle Lohse and Ryan Dempster both fit that mold, but both may demand a longer-term deal than the Nationals are willing to give.
As part of the collective bargaining agreement signed last winter, the qualifying-offer system replaced baseball’s old draft-compensation system, which included certain players as either “Type A” or “Type B” free agents.
The rest of the Nationals’ free agents will be open to talk to other teams starting at midnight tonight.