INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The Washington Nationals continue to stay in touch with the representatives for Adam LaRoche. But the free agent first baseman is also already garnering interest from other teams, which could help to give him a better idea of his market and whether his future is in Washington.
“We’ve been in contact,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday. “We’ve touched base a couple times since the season ended and we continue to talk. We’ll see where it leads us.”
Many of the Nationals’ offseason plans hinge on whether they retain LaRoche, an integral player and clubhouse leader during their 98-win 2012 season.
“You have to be versatile in your thinking and have different avenues to go,” Rizzo said. “When one door slams [closed], another one opens. I think you have to be quick on your feet to figure out the landscape at that given time.”
The Nationals do have the option of playing either Michael Morse or Tyler Moore at first base if they don’t work out a multi-year deal with the 33-year-old LaRoche, giving them flexibility in negotiations with him.
“We have other options so that makes it less critical,” Rizzo said. “But because of what he means to the team, how he balances the lineup, the type of defense he gives us, and his leadership, he makes [himself] an important guy for us to lock up.”
Rizzo said he did not think the fact that the two sides haven’t yet been able to come to terms lessened their chances of signing him. He also suggested that perhaps it was a good thing for LaRoche to explore the market, and then both sides can make an informed decision.
“I think it’ll show him and I what his value is in the market,” Rizzo said. “We’ll see if there’s a fit for him with us. … I’m not sure what his market is. We’ll find that out as the winter progresses.”
According to FOXsports.com, the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers are interested in LaRoche and, in an unsurprising move, LaRoche is likely to turn down the Nationals’ $13.3 million one-year qualifying offer by Friday’s deadline. That decision would ensure the Nationals of at least getting a compensatory draft pick if he signs with another team.
“We love Adam LaRoche,” Rizzo said. “He’s a guy that two years ago we went after on the free agent market. He balances our lineup. He’s a great clubhouse guy. A guy that we value greatly. We do have depth at that position. Although he’s an important piece for us, he’s at a position that we have options.”