Ken Rosenthal has an interesting, albeit foreboding, article up on Fox Sports regarding Boston’s current pursuit of Adam LaRoche, and how that affects the still- free agent catcher Mike Napoli, whom they agreed to terms with, but have yet to finalize, nearly a month ago. He opines that the interest in LaRoche could be a leveraging tactic to get Mike Napoli, who figures to have significant injury concerns, to accept a much lesser offer, while at the same time LaRoche could be leveraging a longer contract from his former team, the Nationals, by talking to the Red Sox.
Ultimately, this is offseason contract-hearsay at its finest.
Napoli, whom the Rangers did not issue the one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer to, could — in theory — come back to Texas if Boston signs the veteran LaRoche, but it would be for significantly less money than he originally agreed to with Boston. Because of his extremely questionable hip/ankle/quads concerns, you’d have to figure if Boston ends up cutting him loose and he went back on the market, he would likely receive a cheap one-year deal in the $7M-$8M range, with a 2nd-year vesting/team option of some kind.
The Nationals, of course, have not wavered from their stance on only being willing to offer Adam LaRoche two years, while the 1st basemen is stringent on receiving three from somewhere. I can understand the trepidation from Washington’s perspective, because although LaRoche banged out his finest season from a WAR-perspective in 2012, hammering 33 HR’s and driving in an even C-note, he’s entering his age-34 season, and they already have Michael Morse who stands to make a mere $6.75 million in 2013.
All the leverage seems to be on the side of Washington, so I wouldn’t be surprised if LaRoche wound up in Boston, triggering a chain-reaction that could send Mike Napoli back to Texas — given the lack of quality internal options in the 1B/C/DH departments.
Richard Durrett has an article up on ESPN stating that Jon Daniels and the Rangers are still in the market for a starting pitcher and another bat. With Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton and Nick Swisher — the only three bats outside Mike Napoli who reasonably could have piqued legitimate interest from Texas — signed elsewhere, smart money is on the remaining areas on roster being filled via trade.
This is both a risky and exciting proposition, as Daniels has proven over recent years he’s not going to overpay in terms of prospects to ascertain the object of his desire. Justin Upton is the most obvious offensive candidate out there, but it remains to be seen if we can entice the Diamondbacks to get rid of him without offering Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. I think the roster is going to be convoluted severely if we don’t move Andrus this offseason, as it’s going to force us to move Ian Kinsler off of 2nd base to make room for Jurickson Profar, thus hamstringing his contract value to the point where it will be almost impossible to justify from a WAR perspective (his 5-year, $70 million extension kicks in next year).
Basically, we’d be turning Ian from an above average- to elite 2nd basemen into an average- to slightly above average corner outfielder, or an average- to below average 1st baseman. It just doesn’t make sense to keep a surplus of talented shortstops when we have clear and dire holes to be filled elsewhere in the lineup.
As far as pitching is concerned, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know if the Rangers have some power play in mind to bring in a David Price-type, or if they’ll settle along the lines of a middle-of-the-rotation starter such that Martin Perez won’t have to be exposed to significant innings in 2013. I’m intrigued by the potential Justin Masterson could deliver on the final two years of his contract, but outside of that, there are about 50 #3-#4 types who could seemingly become available at the drop of a dime — due to how many prospect chips we have floating around.
Anyway, this is the news of the morning. We’re not terribly far away from pitchers and catchers reporting in February, so whatever action (if any) is going to go down, will happen in the next month or so.