Nats keep Span, decline LaRoche, Soriano options

WASHINGTON (AP) Center fielder Denard Span is staying with the Washington Nationals, who exercised their $9 million option for 2015 on his contract Thursday, while declining options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever Rafael Soriano.

Span, Washington’s leadoff hitter, batted .302 with 31 steals and tied for first in the NL with a Nationals’ record 184 hits. He is a Gold Glove Award finalist.

”Excited to be coming back to (hash)dc for another year! (hash)extraordinary,” he tweeted.

LaRoche’s deal included a $15 million mutual optional for next season, but Washington instead chose to pay him a $2 million buyout. Soriano’s contract included a $14 million club option for 2015. They now become free agents.

The 34-year-old LaRoche led the NL East champion Nationals with 26 homers and 92 RBIs this season, his fourth with the club. He went 1 for 18 in an NL Division Series loss to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

The Nationals might wind up moving Ryan Zimmerman – a longtime third baseman who has been replaced at that position by Anthony Rendon – across the diamond to first base.

Soriano began this season as the closer and converted 22 of 24 save opportunities with a 0.97 ERA before the All-Star break. After that, though, he blew five of 15 save chances, and Drew Storen took over the ninth-inning role in September.

Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline, and reserves Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz also became free agents.