Considering Adam LaRoche
Early 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.