According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Orioles are interested in free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche. The problem is that Dan Duquette’s vision is for the Orioles to build through the draft, and signing LaRoche would cost the Orioles their first round pick in next year’s draft (24th overall). LaRoche of course was the Washington Nationals’ first baseman for the past two years, and given that they made him a qualifying offer once free agency began they’re entitled to the first round pick of any other team that signs him. LaRoche and Washington appear to be at a bit of an impasse in the sense that he wants three years and the team seems to only want to sign him for two.
Before I even get into LaRoche’s stats or anything else, let me say that I think he’d be a perfect fit for the O’s. I agree with Dan Duquette’s assessment that the Orioles should build through the draft. However As I said, the Orioles have the 24th pick; they’ll also turn around and have the 35th pick. If the Birds had a top 10 pick I would agree that it’s too risky to let that go to another team. However the fact is that odds are that you won’t find Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman-like talent outside of the top ten picks. (I put odds are in bold because there are exceptions to every rule.) So in effect, the O’s would be taking a bona fide gold glove first baseman with that pick?
Washington is balking on giving the 33-year old LaRoche (who has had some injury problems) the three years that he covets, which is why he’s still on the open market. LaRoche enjoyed his time in DC, and appears to want to return there; given that he gets the deal he wants of course. LaRoche his a career-high 33 home runs in 2012 for Washington, with an overall average of .271. Over the course of his career he’s averaged 27 home runs per season, so his bat would in effect replace Mark Reynolds’. He’s also a gold glove first baseman, so as good as Reynolds was in 2012, LaRoche might be better. Plus he get on base more than Reynolds in general due to a much lower strikeout potential. All in all, this is all part of why I think Adam LaRoche would be a good investment for the Orioles, even if over three years.
Many signs seem to point to LaRoche returning to Washington, however as has been discussed on this column in the past they would then potentially be looking to deal Michael Morse. The O’s would be a potential landing spot, and Morse is also a guy that can play first base. Dan Duquette has appeared willing to deal some of the Orioles’ young pitching, and that’s something that could be attractive to a franchise like Washington who’s given up some organizational pitching depth through trades. The Orioles made a push for LaRoche in 2010, but he ended up going to Washington. Perhaps this time around his decision might be different.