Considering Adam LaRoche

adam-laroche-bravesEarly in the offseason, there was some mild buzz that the Mets might be interested in free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche. However, there’s been absolutely nothing to suggest he is on Omar Minaya’s radar since at least early December (possibly earlier) — most likely because he was looking for too much money over too many years.

But, things have changed for the lefty slugger.

LaRoche’s top suitor, the San Francisco Giants, grew tired of his contract demands and chose instead to sign Aubrey Huff to a one-year deal. Huff joins fellow free agent pickup Mark DeRosa and incumbents Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe to provide the Giants with four solid possibilities for the infield corners — and effectively eliminating the acquisition of LaRoche. And with that, the market for LaRoche has suddenly shrunken — considerably.

The only team left with significant interest in LaRoche is the Baltimore Orioles — who are not keen on the idea of offering more than a one-year deal and, considering their focus on the future, have no reason to waver from that plan. There’s almost no chance of the O’s grabbing the wild card (much less winning the AL East) for at least two more years, so why lock into a multi-year deal with a pricey player like LaRoche? They’ll do just as well picking up someone like Chad Tracy or Hank Blalock on a one-year deal — two players who will be highly motivated to build a case for a better deal next winter.

If indeed Baltimore is lukewarm on signing LaRoche, and there are no other suitors, does it make sense for the Mets to swoop in and make a modest, two-year offer?

Many fans feel that the Mets should just give Dan Murphy a chance at 1B, but if LaRoche can be had on a fair deal, isn’t he worth considering? He has his ups and downs during the year, but nearly always finishes with 25 HR, 80 RBI, .275 AVG., .340 -.350 OBP, and .830 OPS — not spectacular numbers but pretty solid for a #6 hitter. We hope that Murphy can approach those levels but who knows if he will?

Additionally, LaRoche is unspectacular in the field but he’s steady, experienced, and dependable — whereas Murphy often looked lost and confused. I don’t care what UZR says, Murphy was an accident waiting to happen at first base last year — and you have to wonder if his inexperience around the sack affected the other infielders (as well as the pitchers).

Let me head off one notion right away: the idea that LaRoche might “block” Ike Davis. If Davis rips through AAA in 2010 then he gives the Mets a nice problem — too much depth at 1B. Teams with those types of problems do what is called “trading from strength”, and it’s a nice problem to have. Let Davis force the issue rather than handing him a spot — things usually work out much better that way.

So, what if the Mets are able to sign Adam LaRoche on a reasonable one- or two-year deal? Is it something worth considering? Leave your comments below.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike January 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm
    I’m in on LaRoche. His typical line is sufficient enough for me to push Murphy to the side as the bonafide starter. I would still like to see what Murphy can be, but I’m not a huge supporter long term anymore. I think he would be a fantastic Matt Franco type, pinch hitting every game and playing 1-2 times a week.

    Back to LaRoche: I believe if he is brought in he will be disliked by many Mets fans who are big Murphy supporters. Given his typical slow start to the year, I think he might get overly booed and might shake his confidence entirely, dooming his Mets tenure from the start. So I think if he’s brought on that he should be the backup to start, wait until the inevitable Murphy slump, then put him in regularly once he finally gets going in May.

  2. Walnutz15 January 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm
    Count me in on LaRoche, as well.

    However, in addition to whatever the Mets and the fanbase would want to do with Murphy…I feel that LaRoche might be put in a bit of an uncomfortable position w/Beltran.

    Remember their little tit-for-tat last year (i.e. – “unprofessional” comments) — not to mention that he’d be replacing Beltran’s boy, Delgado at 1st.

    Just strikes me as an odd pairing, especially since we’ve heard nothing about Met-related interest for a long time now.

    You can’t argue against his production, though. I like LaRoche, and always have.

    His constant rejection of contracts this winter, though – makes me wonder what he realistically thinks he’s worth. The 3-year, $30MM offer isn’t going to be there for him….and if it somehow magically escalates toward that — then I’d hope he gets it elsewhere.

    The Mets, if you ask me, will be plowing “Murphy’s hard work at 1st base” “1st full season at 1st” angles into our heads ths entire length of ST — heading into the season.

    I have nothing against Murphy, and actually like him — but think he’s a very limited ball-player, and certainly not a starting major league 1st baseman.

  3. Harry Chiti January 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm
    “trading from strength”. Isn’t that illegal in the Mets front office?
  4. isuzudude January 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm
    I’m going to go against the grain here and say I’d prefer to say away from LaRoche. There’s no doubt he’d supply the Mets with more power and more sure-handedness at 1B than Murphy, I’m not debating that. But, like ‘nutz said, LaRoche had some pretty pointed remarks about the Mets and Carlos Beltran in particular last year that would make this potential courtship/relationship rather dicey. Though fences could probably be mended, the point is still valid because even if the Mets have interest in LaRoche, it doesn’t mean LaRoche has any interest in the Mets. And if getting him interested means overpaying for his services, then I’m completely against it.

    LaRoche was also rumored to have rejected a 2 yr, $17.5-mil deal from San Fran, so though the market for starting 1B may be shrinking, LaRoche is most likely at least going to start out at those terms, and that’s too much money for my liking. What are the chances that LaRoche has a better all around season than Garrett Atkins, Aubrey Huff, or Carlos Delgado? Atkins and Huff have already signed for less than $5-mil, and Delgado is doubtful to get much more than that. Even if LaRoche is talked down to $6-7-mil per year, that’s still a poor contract in comparison to what similar players have already signed this offseason. It would be another case of the Mets giving more money to a mediocre player than anyone else would come close to (see Alex Cora, Oliver Perez, Tim Redding) and being nominally better at best because of the addition.

  5. Gregory Rojas January 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm
    Just bring Delgado back for one year, and Ike next year, we need to be younger, and i dream with Ike -Fmart next year.
  6. John January 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm
    First on Daniel Murphy: I think he will eventually be a good to very good hitter. He did a lot of things right in 2008 and when pitchers caught on in early 2009, he adjusted and started to improve towards the end of the season. That is the secret when looking at “sophmore jinx” players; how did they adjust. He did just fine. Can he excel at first base; I don’t know but I don’t think he is a liability. If he has a good year and Ike Davis continues to impress (no guarantee) then you could trade from strength: young player under contract for another few years at a low salary. If Murphy busts you are no worse off.
    As for LaRoche, it doesn’t matter to me about the money; it’s not out of my pocket. But as a player he is a middle of the pack player who is at the bottom of the pack for his position. Not a particulary good defender, doesn’t knock in a lot of runs for a guy who bats in the middle of the order and hasn’t really made any team he has been on any better.
    So why sign a guy who you know will be slightly below average to take the place of a guy who may have some upside. If Murphy is an absolute flop, and Davis isn’t ready, it shouldn’t be hard to find an equivalent to LaRoche during the season. LaRoche is just not that good.
  7. Vern January 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm
    The Mets have much to do this offseason.

    Catching and pitching must come first as there is a void in the starting rotation and behind the plate. Based on activity on the rumormills, Omar has been busy on both fronts. There is “talk” that Bengie Molina AND Joel Piniero will be signed shortly.

    After that, the question becomes where do the Mets want to upgrade? The obvious answer is second base. The next choices are first base and MORE starting pitching.

    The Mets must first address their primary remaining needs in pitching and catching AND give up on the idea of upgrading second base. Luis Castillo may be untradeable and the thought of releasing him might be a bitter pill Omar would not want to swallow.

    Only after realizing the fact that Luis Castillo is going to be the Met starting second baseman, does upgrading elsewhere become a reality. Carlos Delgado and Adam LaRoche falls into a plan “B” and “C”. The Delgado watch has been going on; when the Adam LaRoche-watch begins depends much on what Carlos does or does not do.

    The SF Giants signed Aubrey Huff to a $3 million/ one-year contract. Those parameters are the current market price for a free agent firstbaseman. It has been blogged that Bengie Molina has finally accepted the the fact that he is not going to get a three year deal. Adam LaRoche has not reached that point, yet.

    When does spring training begin?

  8. Walnutz15 January 14, 2010 at 11:38 am
    According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, LaRoche signed with the DBacks on a 1-year deal in the $4-$5MM range.

    I never bought the angle that he’d be interested in the Mets — or that the Mets would give it a shot….pumping Murphy all the way…..

    But really?

    I’d be on the line with my agent right now, firing him. Who told Mr. LaRoche that it’d be prudent to reject these 2 year offers?

    Dopey move.

  9. I hate the Mets May 11, 2010 at 6:24 am
    Ike Davis is what they went with. I think it was the right move.
  10. Walnutz15 October 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm
    Mike Jacobs is what they went with….lol