Nats officially ink Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal
The Nats have finally found their new first baseman, officially signing Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract. The left-handed hitting LaRoche was the best of the remaining free agent first basemen: Carlos Pena signed with the Cubs and Derek Lee signed a one-year contract with the O’s. LaRoche will fit right into the middle of the Nats lineup with Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth in some 3-4-5 combination. He is a defensive upgrade from Adam Dunn–he had the third best ultimate zone rating (UZR) amongst first basemen in 2010, a measure to determine how many runs a player saves. He isn’t bad with the bat either.
LaRoche is a career .271 (933-for-3437) hitter with 242 doubles, 161 home runs and 569 RBI in 989 Big League games. In seven campaigns with Arizona, Atlanta, Boston and Pittsburgh, LaRoche has posted an .827 OPS thanks to career on-base and slugging percentages of .339 and .488, respectively.
LaRoche is one of just five Big Leaguers to have hit 20-plus home runs as a first baseman each of the last six seasons. He is joined on this list by Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko and Ryan Howard.
Last season in arguably his finest offensive effort to date, LaRoche reached the 100-RBI plateau for the first time, hitting .261 with 37 doubles and 25 home runs and 100 RBI for the Diamondbacks.
The 31-year-old LaRoche has played in at least 140 games five of his six complete Big League seasons. He played in 150 and 151 contests each of the last two campaigns, respectively. In addition to the aforementioned six straight 20-plus homer seasons, LaRoche has also legged out 30 or more doubles five straight years.
He is an avid hunter and past teammates have nothing but nice things to say about him. He has a vivacious personality similar to Adam Dunn, so it should not be a problem for him to fit into the Nationals clubhouse. He will be introduced sometime next week at Nationals Park but for everything else you need to know about him read Dejan Kovacevic‘s LaRoche article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2007.