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  1. Also, don’t count out the fact that Davey Johnson is all about locker room cohesion. LaRoche is an excellent man for the clubhouse.

    Comment by Dan Rozenson — December 19, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  2. Nats are handling this just right: Two-year contract, period. Not only is Michael Morse available for the coming season, but they’ve got players in the pipeline for the future. If Mr. LaRoche signs with another team, take the draft choice. If he signs the two-year deal, Mr. Morse is traded for a reliever or a pitching prospect. As for why they want Mr. LaRoche, I assume it’s a function of the left-handed batter and defense, plus there were times in both 2011 and 2012 when Davey Johnson seemed less than happy with Mr. Morse’s exuberance (shall we say).

    Comment by Eugene in Oregon — December 19, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  3. OK, I may buy the “clubhouse guy” argument, but otherwise why is there any interest in this guy? Last season was the best of his career, and at 33 there is no way he does that again. He’s got a career .268/.338/.482 line, which is nothing to scoff at, but also doesn’t warrant $13M/year.

    You’re buying 25HR and a weak OBP — is that really a special value proposition?

    Comment by MLB Rainmaker — December 19, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  4. The Nats have some wild throwing arms on the left side of the infield (Zimmerman and Desmond). LaRoche’s slick glove saved a lot of would-be errors last year. Do the defensive metrics for 1B capture that sort of thing? I agree Morse is much better at 1B than LF but I wonder if the article maybe lowballs the defense delta between LaRoche and Morse at 1B.

    Comment by Derek — December 19, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  5. Basically you’d be paying for a career year with little chance he repeats. Don’t get me wrong, as a Nats fan I loved watching him last season but that price tag with a 3rd year is way too much. Plus Morse’s upside is much higher.

    Granted having another lefty in the middle of the lineup would be nice it’s just not worth it.

    Comment by THEFRANCH15E — December 19, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  6. Is Johnson really that into clubhouse cohesion? I think those Mets of 1986 all liked to party but I don’t know that they all got along all the time.

    Comment by wobatus — December 19, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  7. For the price of 12 million, the Nats are getting the opportunity to turn Morse into 4-6 years of control of a prospect of some kind. If you have the money, why not?

    Comment by AK7007 — December 19, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  8. OK, I may buy the “clubhouse guy” argument, but otherwise why is there any interest in this guy? Last season was the best of his career, and at 33 there is no way he does that again. He’s got a career .268/.338/.482 line, which is nothing to scoff at, but also doesn’t warrant $13M/year.

    You’re buying 25HR and a weak OBP — is that really a special value proposition?

    Comment by MLB Rainmaker — December 19, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  9. Keep the beast! Okay, yeah, LaRoche had great numbers for 2012. But also look at the lineup he had surrounding him. Talk about ultimate protection with Zimmerman, Morse, Desmond, and Harper all padding around him. Even count Werth if you want coming back from wrist injury. The Nats lineup was loaded with power threats in 2012. In 2011? Not so much. Zimmerman was out for a while, Desmond was struggling with injury, there was no Harper. So who stepped up? Michael Morse. The beast almost single handedly carried the team to a near .500 season in 2011. A full season with this lineup, and I know he will easily replicate his 2011 numbers.

    Comment by Shane — December 19, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  10. I wouldn’t say Espinosa offers no power from the left side. He had a .157 ISO v RHP last year, which was down from previous years. Makes him one of the better slugging middle infielders v. RHP.

    Comment by MC — December 19, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  11. I think that LaRoche coming back would be good for handedness. You can go Zimmernan-Harper-Werth-LaRoche for example and make it hard to get handedness on the lineup. In addition, however, LaRoche has a platoon split of decent size(wRC+ of 95 vs. Lefties against 118 vs. Righties, 250/305/445 slash line vs. Lefties against 274/348/495 vs. Righties). You could start LaRoche against righties and Morse against lefties and have the other avalibile for strong pinch hitting for the pitcher.

    Comment by Ruki Motomiya — December 19, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  12. .340 OBP is 25 points above average.

    Comment by CJ — December 19, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  13. I live in DC so I’ve taken a closer interest in the Nats the past year or so. I think a lot of casual fans think that his great year can be repeated, but we obviously know that LaRoche has been fairly inconsistent throughout his career. He can go from middle of the order hitter to possibly waiver fodder pretty quickly. I hope that the only reason they want to bring him back is to have depth. Being able to plug Morse into LF or 1B when someone needs an off day or if Span gets hurt is convenient, but this becomes worse if LaRoche is re-signed and they trade Morse. As you’ve stated, Morse makes more sense long term, financially and performance-wise. Unless they’ve got a deal on the table for Morse that makes sense, I don’t see why this happens. That being said, I’m glad they are sticking to only the two year offer…it shows they are somewhat skeptical. It’s nice to not have any major holes to fill.

    Comment by Randy — December 19, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  14. Pretty good glove too. Makes the rest of the infield better.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — December 19, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

  15. Hm. Interesting. I think that other than 2011 LaRoche has actually been pretty consistent – just not consistantly all that good. Not bad, mind you, but certainly not exceptional. Even last year the only reason that he won the Silver Slugger at first base was that Votto was hurt and Fielder and Pujols moved to the AL.

    When the Nationals traded for Span I figured (for all the reasons in the original post) that LaRoche was gone and Morse was going to play first for the Nationals in 2013. Pocket the draft pick. If Morse struggled in 2013, the Nats have Tyler Moore as an option, and in 2014 would have some combination of Tyler Moore, Anthony Rendon or Matt Skole waiting in the wings. If Morse lights it up, tender him and pocket another draft pick.

    And the more digging I did, the easier the call got. I know that “clutch doesn’t exist” – but if you look at career and 2012 splits in high leverage situations (RISP, RISP with two outs, etc), Morse is not only consistently better, it’s often by a lot. And the argument for having a LH bat to plug in doesn’t wash either, because Morse’s splits against RHP is virtually identical to LaRoche’s. In pure on the field terms, the obvious play for the Nationals is Morse.

    Davey Johnson is the big call for LaRoche, and it’s possible that is a product of a couple of things. First, there have been some rumblings that Davey isn’t pleased with Morse’s goofball act. He also may view LaRoche as a mentor for Harper – Harper talks about LaRoche as one of the role models he looks up to (with Jayson Werth and Zimmerman) on the team. And Harper is friends with LaRoche’s son (they were toasting in the clubhouse with sparkling cider when the Nats clinched a playoff spot). This is all I can think of, because on pure baseball merits it’s an easy call for Morse.

    Comment by John C. — December 19, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

  16. It’s not just Morse, but Tyler Moore who the Nationals are very keen on as a cheap, long-term option at 1B. He put up back-to-back 30+ HR seasons in the minors, and hit 10 in only 171 PAs in irregular time with the Nationals, despite being shuttled back and forth between Syracuse and Washington and often rotting on the bench. And he delivered the winning pinch-hit in NLDS Game 1. What more does a guy have to do to win your confidence?

    Morse is the more visible piece here, but the long-term question is really whether the Nationals think Tyler Moore’s ascent will have passed Adam LaRoche’s decline by 2014. Seems like a good bet to me that Moore will be the cheaper, better option than either before three years are out.

    Comment by LHomonacionale — December 19, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

  17. If the Orioles sign LaRoche, the Nationals get the 24th overall pick in the draft, which is an even bigger deal than in past years due to the new limits on spending (a second first round pick would increase the Nats’ draft cap space considerably).

    Either way, it’s a win win situation. Sign LaRoche? Trade Morse for prospects or roster depth.
    Not sign LaRoche? Get draft pick compensation.

    Comment by Will — December 20, 2012 @ 4:56 am

  18. They don’t get the 24th pick in the draft, rather the Oriole would lose their 23rd pick then the Nats 29th pick would become the 28th and they would recieve the 32nd pick as Laroche would slot in behind the Swisher comp pick

    Comment by Tomcat — January 8, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

  19. Turned out relatively true, although Will’s comment would have been a good outcome too, probably:

    Comment by AK7007 — January 8, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  20. Can Tyler Moore play corner outfield?

    Comment by snack man — January 8, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  21. Moore was probably better than Morse in left last year, but I know that’s not saying much. He won’t hit for average though, his K rate is way too high. Moore was pretty well suited for his role, and he does have some upside, but he’s not really young didn’t have a great defensive rep at 1st either, and Davey didn’t really play him there. I would think Tracy would get the occasional LaRoche needs a rest start over Moore at 1st again, but he could handle the odd start out in left since Harper and Bernadina are ok in center.

    Comment by mockcarr — January 9, 2013 @ 10:10 am

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