Nats, LaRoche reach two-year deal

BY Ken Rosenthal • January 8, 2013

One of the longest-running sagas of the offseason ended Tuesday, when the Washington Nationals and free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche reached agreement on a two-year contract.

The deal, first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by a major-league source, gives LaRoche and the club a mutual option for a third year.

LaRoche, 33, had sought a three-year deal coming off a season in which he finished sixth in the National League MVP voting. But his market was limited by the qualifying offer that he received from the Nationals, subjecting him to draft-pick compensation.

The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles both showed interest in LaRoche, but were unwilling to part with a high draft pick, sources said. The Red Sox now appear more likely to finish their deal with free agent Mike Napoli, who agreed to terms on Dec. 3 but has yet to officially sign because of an issue with his physical.

The Nationals’ re-signing of LaRoche dramatically increases the chances that the team will trade left fielder Michael Morse, who is now without a spot in the everyday lineup. An earlier trade for center fielder Denard Span pushed Bryce Harper to left, and Jayson Werth will return in right.

LaRoche produced career highs with 33 homers and 100 RBI last season, and his .853 OPS was his best since 2006, when he was a member of the Atlanta Braves. He also won the Gold Glove at first base.

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