Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, who hit a career-high 33 homers in 2012 with a strong line of .271/.343/.510/.853 while winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award as both the top offensive and defensive first baseman in the National League, told the Washington Post that he remains extremely interested in returning to the Nationals, but that he and the team have yet to find middle ground on the term of a contract.
LaRoche, 33, wants a three-year commitment from Washington, while the Nationals — most recently through a face-to-face meeting on Friday between the first baseman and GM Mike Rizzo — are holding the line at two years.
“I think they’re really wanting to stick to two years. I’m trying to talk them into lengthening that. To be honest, probably just one year. I’m not looking for four or five. I understand I’m 33 years old,” LaRoche told the Post. “I can’t say it moved forward. We understand each other a lot more now. I think he understands where I’m coming from. He understands I want to be there, kind of my argument for three years not being unreasonable. So, I don’t know.”
According to the story, LaRoche has also received interest from the Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners and Rays, while noting that “none of those talks [has] advanced past an early stage.”
Well, the news is certainly beginning to pick up. The winter meetings begin tomorrow and new names are popping up more frequently. Some expected, some unexpected. Some I like, some I don't. You get the idea.
Now, it is Adam LaRoche. Yeah, the same Adam LaRoche that spend six games with the Sox in '09, who was later replaced by Casey Kotchman. The Sox were one of 3 teams that LaRoche called home that season (PIT, ATL).
LaRoche had a what you could call career year last season, and some may think it was convenient that his .271 average, 33 homers and 100 RBI came in a contract year. LaRoche has had 4 seasons with a higher batting average, hit 32 homers in '06, has hit 25 homers in 3 different seasons, and 100 RBI before. So last season was just another good season for the 33-year-old. Almost forgot the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards...so it was a slightly better season than the rest.
Now let's talk what is important, the dollars. Adam LaRoche made $8 Million last season, which was the highest season salary in his career. Coming off a season like that, all Adam has going against him is his slightly advanced baseball age, and only 43 games in '11 due to injury. Looking for a 3-year deal shouldn't be hard for him, as long as he can prove he is healthy. LaRoche has never missed any extended time as he did in 2011, so that should also be easily convincing to interested clubs. I would imagine that he will get his career payday with whatever team picks him up. I wouldn't be surprised if Adam gets somewhere in the $13-$15 million per year range. That could be a low-ball, especially with a few of the contracts that have already been dished out around the league. If the Rangers are in fact interested, they will be the only other team that would out-bid the Sox if the Nats don't commit to the 3 years he was asking him for. I'm not saying the Sox are going to get in a bidding war, but they will have a ceiling that could be exceeded by the Rangers. If the Sox do advance beyond the early stages, Anything beyond that $13 Million per year may be excessive. That number is less than what some of us were expecting to be thrown at Napoli. When it comes down to the two, I would much rather see LaRoche here than Napoli, I don't care if he is 3 years older.
Since no numbers have been thrown into the mix yet, and the certainty that all of those teams are interested, it is hard to guage what the market for LaRoche will be. Again, I hope the Sox do show further interest and eventually make an offer, as long as it is under $15 Million per season.
On Page 2, Jonny Gomes is going to play a lot.
On Saturday, the Red Sox officially announced the signing of outfielder Jonny Gomes to a two-year, $10 million contract. Gomes, 32, appeared in 99 games for the A’s last season, batting .262 with 18 home runs, 47 RBI, a .377 on-base percentage, and .491 slugging percentage. He appeared in 39 games (25 starts) in left field, three in right field, and served as the designated hitter in 53. He will primarily play left field for the Sox.
“I see him playing a lot of left field,” said general manger Ben Cherington. “We think his bat fits well in the lineup, in the ballpark. Did a lot of work on him and he’s developed a really good reputation as a leader in the clubhouse, a guy that can mentor young players and make an influence. He plays with an edge. He’s used to the AL East. So just thought it would be a good fit all the way around.”
Asked if Gomes will be an everyday player, Cherington replied:
“We expect him to play a lot. Exactly how many at-bats that ends up being, that’s up to [manager] John [Farrell] and I guess up to Jonny to some degree and how he performs. But he’ll have an opportunity to play a lot. We see him as an important part of the team and the lineup.”
So, have the Red Sox found their left fielder? I guess so. There is not much available out there that will give you much more than Gomes, other than Josh Hamilton.
If that is what the Sox think is best, then I am on board. Gomes will certainly contribute more than the likes of a Nava and Kalish, so let's go with it. I can't imagine it would lead to anything worse than the left field contribution in 2012.
The rest of the links:
Globe: Red Sox still have plenty to do | Red Sox have big plans for Jonny Gomes | Red Sox notes and quotes from Fenway Park | Jonny Gomes wins the press conference | Cherington talks shop before winter meetings | CSNNE: Gomes groomed to be Sox left fielder | Farrell in full preparation mode | Cherington previews winter meetings | ESPN Boston: Lavarnway unfazed by uncertain future | Herald: Salty, Ryan ignore rumors | Boras: I owe debt to Miller | No long-term relationships | Fact: If you used, you lose | Surprises could be in store for Red Sox | WEEI: Ben Cherington on trading starting pitcher: "We have to be open minded"