Texas Rangers: Adam LaRoche
Today's player: Adam LaRoche
The 33-year-old hit .271 with 33 homers and 100 RBIs in 2012 for the Washington Nationals and it was thought that he'd be re-signing with them. But according to reports, LaRoche wants a three-year deal and the Nationals aren't ready to offer that many years.
LaRoche played in 154 games last season and had a .853 OPS and a 4.0 WAR. He had 138 strikeouts and 67 walks. He started 149 games at first base for Washington. With Josh Hamilton now in Anaheim, the Rangers could certainly use a left-handed bat with power in the lineup. LaRoche would provide that.
There are potential issues, though. For starters, LaRoche is a first baseman. That's where he's played his entire career. The Rangers currently have Mitch Moreland (a left-handed hitter) at that position and have talked to Ian Kinsler about playing first, depending on how the team looks in 2013. Certainly plans can change, but LaRoche wouldn't give the club much flexibility (unlike Swisher, who could play corner outfield, for instance).
It's been a while -- remember Mark Teixeira? -- since the Rangers had a first baseman with that kind of power. In fact, LaRoche led all first basemen in the big leagues in homers (Ike Davis was second at 32 and Prince Fielder was third at 30). For comparison, the Rangers got 20 homers total from the first base position in 2012 -- only six teams had fewer in the big leagues. Of that 20, 14 were hit by Moreland (he had 15 homers on the season as one was hit as a pinch-hitter).
As for defense, LaRoche just won his first Gold Glove for his play at first base. So he's got the all-around game to warrant a multiyear deal. One question is whether Texas is willing to give LaRoche a third year.
Another hurdle: draft pick compensation. If the Rangers sign LaRoche, they'd be giving up their first-round draft choice. That's because the Nationals made a one-year qualifying offer to LaRoche, who declined it.
What do you think of LaRoche? Would you sign him to a three-year deal and make him the first baseman? If you do, what does that mean for Kinsler? Does he go to the outfield? How would you use Moreland?
Reducing the market for the top free agent on the market can only help the Rangers. The club remains interested and was expected to meet with agent Casey Close here in Nashville (they may have already met). Everywhere you turn, you hear about the Los Angeles Dodgers as if they've got their checkbook and are just waiting to know what numbers to fill in for Greinke. But I wonder if that's not overblown. And I wonder, too, if Greinke will consider other options as well. Obviously, if the Dodgers were to get to a number of years (like seven, for instance) that is above anyone else, that changes the game. But what if the offers are similar? The Rangers are a contending team, Greinke wants to play for a winner and he's performed well at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in his career.
While the Rangers have ownership with deep pockets and a lucrative television deal, they also pride themselves on making smart financial choices. A long-term contract that isn't good can still handcuff them in other ways. So we'll see how far they're willing to go for Greinke, who would be at the top of the rotation with Yu Darvish if he came here.
Ray Davis, co-chairman of the board, is scheduled to arrive in Nashville at some point this afternoon. At the very least, that would put an owner in the room as the Rangers discuss options (and if they wanted to meet with some folks). It could also give them a better idea of what they can spend.
Other things seen and heard in the lobby:
* The Rangers have checked in on Dustin Moseley, another low risk-high reward guy who is coming off Tommy John surgery. It's unclear when Moseley could return and whether a Joakim Soria deal with Texas would make them less likely to consider him. He had surgery in April after posting a 3.30 ERA in 120 innings (20 starts) in 2011 with the San Diego Padres. He's from Texarkana, Texas.
* Catching continues to be on the club's list. A.J. Pierzynski is the most attractive free agent, but may be too pricey. Miguel Olivo is on the club's radar as is Kelly Shoppach and the surplus of catchers in Toronto.
* There are some who think the Rangers could still afford both Josh Hamilton and Greinke, but that likely depends on the market for Hamilton.
* I was told that the Rangers really doesn't have a ton of interest in Adam LaRoche, despite some reports saying they're in on him.
So expect to see the Rangers connected with some of left-handed hitting free agents this offseason, ones that would likely cost less than Hamilton. One name that's already popped up at the GM meetings is Adam LaRoche. FoxSports.com reported Wednesday that the Rangers have some interest in LaRoche.
The 33-year-old first baseman would give the team more power and production at that position, something they've lacked, frankly, since trading Mark Teixeira in the summer of 2007. He was healthy in 2012 and played well defensively, winning the NL Gold Glove at that position. He hit .271 with 33 homers and 100 RBIs in 154 games. He's the type of hitter that has power, but can strikeout.
ESPN.com's Keith Law adds in his look at the top free agents that he'd "love to have him for one year, would be content with two years and would jump into the Potomac River before giving him four."
The Nationals offered LaRoche the one-year, $13.3 million deal, but he's likely to reject that to get a multi-year contract.
"I think we all feel like the ballpark probably favors left-handed hitters or somebody that drives the ball the other way from the right side," CEO Nolan Ryan said Wednesday. "I think if you have an opportunity to pick up a left-handed power guy, you’d have to look at it."
Other left-handed hitters on the free agent market:
CF Michael Bourn
OF/1B Nick Swisher (he's a switch-hitter with more power from the left side)
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Melky Cabrera (but do you take a chance on him after his suspension for testosterone use)
CF Angel Pagan (switch-hitter)
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Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.