LaRoche has long been considered the Nationals’ first priority this offseason. News that another team is very serious about him should be just a bit concerning, though not very surprising after the numbers he put up last season.
The Orioles represent another perfect fit for LaRoche: Hitter-friendly ballpark, team in need of a first baseman, team that values defense as much as anyone out there. In fact, the Orioles were linked to LaRoche back in the 2010-2011 offseason before the Nationals ultimately signed him.
With Mark Reynolds gone, the Orioles certainly have a need to fill at first base, and GM Dan Duquette has made it known far and wide that he intends to add a middle-of-the-order bat this offseason. So whether Stark’s report is accurate or not, the Orioles should be considered a player for LaRoche anyway.
The Nationals have been unwilling to add a third year to their offers to LaRoche so far, but Bill Ladson of MLB.com wrote earlier that that won’t necessarily be a disadvantage for the Nats. Ladson said that it appears the Orioles are also unwilling to go to that third year, so whoever caves may ultimately decide the winner of LaRoche’s services.
If the Nationals do intend to trade Michael Morse to acquire that fifth dominant starter, they will be aggressive. What happens with LaRoche will ultimately shape the Nats’ offsesaon.. Without him, they lose a substantial trade chip in Morse, and might be forced to deal prospects or overpay on the open market to fill that final rotation spot.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on all things Adam LaRoche as well as all the other rumors, trades and signings as the offseason progresses.