As the Nationals embark on baseball’s winter meetings at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, they have laid out a plan among their top front office officials and scouts. And free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, the team’s Gold Glove fielder and 33-home run slugger last season, remains near the top of that list.
But, as of Monday afternoon, no progress had been made between LaRoche and the team since the first baseman and General Manager Mike Rizzo had a one-on-one conversation over the weekend.
“I don’t think there’s any urgency to set a deadline or a specific timeline we need to get it done,” Rizzo said. “Needless to say, this decision is going to impact some of the other decisions we make. Sooner rather than later is our preference. We’re not going to pressure Adam into anything that he’s not comfortable doing.”
The market for quality first basemen is slim, and LaRoche is a common name linked to teams in dire need of one, with the potential to command a lucrative multi-year deal. But LaRoche’s list of suitors was trimmed by two on Monday, the opening day of the winter meetings, when two teams that were interested in him, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, reportedly signed James Loney and Mike Napoli, respectively, ruling out LaRoche as an option for either. There’s increasing speculation that LaRoche could ultimately sign with the Nationals. Then Michael Morse, potentially packaged with another player, would be traded for a good starting pitcher.
As he stated before, Rizzo said the Nationals have received several calls about Morse but added that the Nationals have not made any calls shopping him themselves. Rizzo said that there wouldn’t necessarily be an order as to which move came first. If they were offered an inviting deal for Morse before LaRoche were to re-sign, then the Nationals would make the trade, Rizzo said.
“If the right offer for any player came up, we would certainly act on it,” Rizzo said. “Because we have such depth at that position, it reinforces the fact that if we get a deal that we like, for anybody, not specifying Mike Morse, but for anybody.”
The Nationals also have confidence in second-year player Tyler Moore, should he be forced into everyday action at first base. If the Nationals were to lose LaRoche and trade Morse, Rizzo said he would be comfortable with Moore at first.