NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Washington Nationals talked with the agent for first baseman Adam LaRoche on Monday night, and they have met with his representation face-to-face this week, but as Day 2 of the Winter Meetings wore on there wasn’t much progress to report in their negotiations.
The Nationals have made it clear to LaRoche that they’d like him back on a two-year deal while LaRoche would still prefer three. But one person who continued to make his opinion on the matter obvious is manager Davey Johnson, who wants the slugging left-hander back in his lineup. Bad.
“Adam LaRoche is going to come back,” Johnson said Tuesday. “If I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will.”
Johnson spent the weekend with LaRoche, welcoming him to the manager’s charity golf tournament to benefit LightHouse for the Blind in Orlando, and he did all he could to force LaRoche’s hand. Before LaRoche arrived, Johnson pestered him with messages telling him to bring his pen from Kansas — with which to sign his contract.
At the tournament, Johnson made sure LaRoche was playing with the best team, he nudged LaRoche and general manager Mike Rizzo together any chance he got, and he had anyone he could buying beef from LaRoche’s ranch.
“We’re trying to make it easier for him to come back,” Johnson said with a chuckle.
There is a good deal of optimism that the Nationals and LaRoche will ultimately work something out, though perhaps not before the winter meetings come to a close on Thursday. General manager Mike Rizzo reiterated Tuesday that he wouldn’t put a timetable on it, saying only “our offers on the table and we’re not going to pressure Adam into doing anything sooner than he’s ready to do it.”
But if and when the Nationals do agree to terms with LaRoche, they’d have to figure out what to do with Michael Morse, who would seem to be positionless. Johnson admitted that it’d be tough to keep everyone if that was the case, but if the Nationals entered spring training with all of them, he’d do his best to make it all fit.
“We have a lot of conversations on a daily basis, me and Rizzo, but I basically respect his judgment and whatever he wants to do, I’m going to make it work,” Johnson said. “If we don’t sign Adam, we have other alternatives, which I’m comfortable with.
“My job is to manage them. (Rizzo’s) job is to sign them. Whatever he does, my job, I’m going to be under the gun to make it work… (But) once you have everyday players that have established their credentials in the major leagues and are pretty good, it’s hard to start sharing roles. But that’s part of the game of baseball. We might have to make a move if we get too heavy that way.”