LaRoche Back to the Nationals…

Well, it looks like one of the big boppers left on the market, Adam LaRoche, has gone ahead and re-signed with the Washington Nationals.

From Nats Insider: The Nationals' unwillingness to budge on their longstanding, two-year offer to Adam LaRoche paid off in the end. LaRoche today agreed to the deal after failing to find another club willing to give the free agent first baseman the three-year contract he sought all along.

The contract guarantees $24 million, according to a source familiar with the details. LaRoche will earn salaries of $10 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014, with a $2 million buyout in 2015 if either side elects not to pick up a mutual option.

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Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo never budged on his two-year offer, explaining his rationale to LaRoche in person: With every other position on the field locked up through at least 2105, Rizzo wanted to ensure at least some long-term roster flexibility.

So LaRoche set off to find if any other organizations were willing to offer three year contracts, with the Red Sox, Rangers and Orioles among the potential suitors. None of those clubs, though, was willing to go to a third year, in part because none wanted to give up the draft pick that would have been required after the Nationals made a $13.3 million qualifying offer to LaRoche in early November.

Rizzo all along felt that qualifying offer — which also would have guaranteed draft pick compensation to the Nationals had LaRoche signed elsewhere — would help increase the chances of the first baseman staying in D.C. And the GM was proven correct.

LaRoche was no doubt looking for a long-term deal and big payday based on his gaudy numbers from the 2012 season.

However, due to the changes in the draft pick compensation rule for free agents, LaRoche – much like Michael Bourn, Rafael Soriano, and Kyle Lohse – didn’t have any teams wanting to dole out a huge contract. Then again, most teams didn’t want to lose a draft pick, which are now more coveted than ever.

Although the Orioles were looking at LaRoche for first base, as well as a proven bat in the lineup, they didn’t seem inclined to really go after him.

I would have liked to see LaRoche on the Orioles and he would have been a perfect fit for Camden Yards; however, one can understand why a team would not want to give a 33-year old a long-term deal; furthermore, lose a draft pick.

What does this mean for the Orioles? Perhaps now they can look at Michael Morse – LaRoche’s teammate in Washington – as an option, since he is a man without a real position. Then again, a lot of teams (notably the Rays) would be knocking on the Nationals door.

In turn, the Nationals would want some fairly good young talent in return.

Now more than ever, Chris Davis looks to be the Opening Day stating first baseman unless the Orioles can somehow make a trade for a first baseman or a bat.