As expected, the Washington Nationals have officially declined their side of a $15 million mutual option with Adam LaRoche, meaning the veteran first baseman will officially be a free agent this offseason. Washington will pay him a $2 million buyout as per the terms in the 2 year, $24 million contract LaRoche signed before 2013.
The Brewers, who have had no luck finding a first baseman the past two seasons, have been heavily rumored to have great interest in acquiring LaRoche.
LaRoche won't be eligible to sign with a new team until November 4, when MLB free agent season officially begins. As soon as that day hits, we can expect the Brewers will be involved in talks for the 34-year-old. Other teams that may be in contention for a first baseman include the Pirates, Marlins and, potentially, the Mariners.
Over 140 games last year, LaRoche hit .259/.362/.455 with 26 home runs. The year before, he posted a .735 OPS with 19 homers. LaRoche is also a finalist for the NL first base Gold Glove award. The consensus seems to be that his defense is passable-to-good, though overrated.
Milwaukee hasn't been prone to getting off to hot starts in free agency recently, so any deal with LaRoche may take a while. Still, it seems like most project him to eventually end up in a Brewers uniform. Something similar to his last deal seems reasonable to expect, though it's possible he could go up to something like Aramis Ramirez's three year, $36 million deal. That will, of course, depend on the teams bidding for him.
The Brewers made a strong push for a first baseman last year, bidding for James Loney before he resigned with the Rays and trying to woo Cuban slugger Jose Abreu but falling short. In the end, Milwaukee ended up with the Mark Reynolds/Lyle Overbay platoon.
This offseason, the Brewers will hope to find a more certain bat to play the position. The Nationals declining LaRoche's option makes him target number one in that category.