First baseman Adam LaRoche declined his one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer prior to today’s 5 p.m., according to the MLB Players Association. LaRoche’s decision means the Nationals will receive a compensatory draft pick if LaRoche signs elsewhere this winter.

The Nationals are still permitted to sign LaRoche, who has said he prefers to remain in Washington. General Manager Mike Rizzo said yesterday he still wants to keep LaRoche with the Nationals. But LaRoche will draw significant interest in a market bereft of quality first basemen after he won both the NL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

While LaRoche’s left-handed bat is an ideal fit in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup, Rizzo sees many options in the event LaRoche receives an offer from a different he does not want to match. Michael Morse could move to first base, with the Nationals replacing the void in their outfield via trade or free agency.

The qualifying offer system is new this winter, replacing the old “Type A” and “Type B” model for draft pick compensation. Including LaRoche, nine free agents received qualifying offers, and all nine rejected them.