According to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today, the White Sox just signed former Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche. Like, just signed.
In an ideal world, Nightengale is in the room, watching LaRoche sign the deal, hiding behind a large fern and tweeting.
LaRoche had a very nice 2014 season, hitting .259/.362/.455 with 26 home runs in 140 games. That career-high on-base percentage came thanks to 82 walks in 586 plate appearances. Those marks were good enough for a 127 wRC+, equaling his mark from his 33-homer 2012 campaign. He's slid those two very good campaign between mediocre 2011 and 2013 seasons, though the 2011 included his last major injury--a labrum tear.
This is a fine deal in most ways, especially for the horror show of MLB free agency, especially with expectations for rapid acceleration in contracts. This fills a need for a 1B/DH (possibly overfills it), without paying and committing your franchise to be centered around an older 1B/DH. And he could really thrive in Chicago. [HERE COMES A MANDATORY US CELLULAR FIELD-BASED EXPRESSION OF OFFENSIVE OPTIMISM]
It isn't perfect. It's free agency! LaRoche is not some great exception to the issues I might have had with Victor Martinez, or the chattering for 'Bring back Adam Dunn' when he was hot for the first two months. LaRoche is old. He's 35. He's three days older than Dunn, in fact, who just retired. There are no major injuries in the last five years, but occasional back issues.
His approach seems superb and he's grown increasingly contact-oriented (18.4 K% last season), but he's firmly in Konerko territory where he's productive until he's not, and when he's not, he might just never be again, and that might just come at any time. If it happens in May of 2015, well two years doesn't seem that short, does it?
The White Sox have certainly filled that need for a capable 1B/DH bat, which either shores up Conor Gillaspie's role on the team as the full-time third baseman, or puts him on the edge. Dayan Viciedo could still conceivably platoon with LaRoche--who was awful vs. lefties last season--but this kind of roster-working definitely makes the rest of their off-season very linear. Get a left-fielder, get a right-handed third baseman or get rid of Gillaspie, etc.
This is another thought, while we're just piling them up here. This isn't Melky Cabrera. This isn't a long-term solution at this position. This is very much ensuring this lineup slot doesn't suck the next two years, or very specifically, next year. You do this because you're trying to win immediately, and if that's the case, yes, your asking price for Alexei Ramirez is quite high, because it needs to improve the current team more than going from Alexei to Marcus Semien would hurt it (WHICH MIGHT BE A LOT).
Winning now will take even more money yet, which makes it good they didn't spend the moon here, but there's an argument to go for it now. They have two great players in their prime. I like watching winning. I'm not mad at this.
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