This morning, in somewhat not unexpected news, the Nationals exercised their options on both Adam LaRoche and Sean Burnett only to see both players decline their side of the options and will become free agents.
Both players say that they want long term deals with the Nationals and didn’t like the idea of getting only one extra year with their options and somewhat below market value. Both are coming off of very good seasons, and should be able to get a multi-year deal and more guaranteed dollars than the option would have provided and although both declined the options, both have said that they want to rejoin the Nationals.
Don’t necessarily count out both players returning. Just yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays declined their option on Rajai Davis and subsequently signed him to a new one-year contract at a number both sides agreed on. It has been said that LaRoche’s camp has been in discussions with the Nationals, however he may want to hit the open market and see what is available. Burnett has said that he wants to return to the Nationals, but with the bullpen pretty stocked, they may let Burnett go and fill the hole with a other lefties like free-agents to be Mike Gonzalez or Zach Duke or someone from another organization.
Both of these players were significant parts of the Nationals 2012 East Division championship, but with depth throughout the organization, the need to spend to return these specific players is not high. First base can be filled quite easily from the inside, and the hole it creates in the outfield can be filled if the Nationals go out to get a true lead off man. I would not like Michael Bourn, but that’s another post for another day.
So now that these options are decided, the Nationals can start negotiating longer term deals under their terms and if they are not happy with them, they can spend some of the money better elsewhere.