LaRoche had not reached that point. But he had spent Friday night at a pre-tournament party talking with Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo about his future. LaRoche and Rizzo shared an amicable, open conversation that lasted 30 or 40 minutes, a meeting that allowed both parties to lay out their stances on LaRoche’s potential return to the team.
The Major League Baseball world will descend Sunday on Nashville, where the annual winter meetings begin in earnest Monday morning. LaRoche remains one of the Nationals’ major priorities.
The Nationals want LaRoche to come back, and LaRoche wants to stay in Washington. The sides have not necessarily moved any closer to making that immediately happen, though. Rizzo explained to LaRoche why the Nationals want to re-sign him to a two-year deal. LaRoche outlined why he believes his Silver Slugger and Gold Glove season should net him a three-year deal. Both LaRoche and Rizzo will move forward with a full understanding of where the other stands.
“To be honest, it’s a years thing now,” LaRoche said. “I think they’re really wanting to stick to two years. I’m trying to talk them into lengthening that. To be honest, probably just one year. I’m not looking for four or five. I understand I’m 33 years old.
“I can’t say it moved forward. We understand each other a lot more now. I think he understands where I’m coming from. He understands I want to be there, kind of my argument for three years not being unreasonable.”
Rizzo explained to LaRoche why he wanted to cap the Nationals’ offer at two years. The Nationals will have a clogged infield once top prospect Anthony Rendon arrives. They will also have to make rising financial commitments in upcoming years to Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and a bevy of other homegrown players.
“It was a good, productive talk,” Rizzo said. “He’s a terrific guy I have a lot of respect for. . . . We didn’t talk dollars and cents at all. That’s for me to talk to his agent. I gave him kind of a global view of what we’re trying to do with him and the reasons for it. There’s a reason and a rationale for the offers we’ve made to Adam.”
LaRoche requested the meeting “to make sure nothing got lost in translation” between Rizzo and LaRoche’s agent, Mike Milchin. LaRoche typically steers way clear of negotiation, preferring to spend his winter with his cellphone off and a hunting bow in his hands. But with Rizzo, he felt comfortable with a face-to-face meeting.
“It was great,” LaRoche said. “It’s cool with Rizz. I think we can both open up and be really honest and not have to play the game of keeping everything close to the vest. I think we’re both a little bit past that. I’ve got too much respect for him to try to B.S. him through this, and I think he’s the same way.”