This week, we're looking at some of the names still out on the free-agent or trade market and trying to determine whether they fit with the Texas Rangers.
Today's player: Adam LaRoche
The 33-year-old hit .271 with 33 homers and 100 RBIs in 2012 for the Washington Nationals and it was thought that he'd be re-signing with them. But according to reports, LaRoche wants a three-year deal and the Nationals aren't ready to offer that many years.
LaRoche played in 154 games last season and had a .853 OPS and a 4.0 WAR. He had 138 strikeouts and 67 walks. He started 149 games at first base for Washington. With Josh Hamilton now in Anaheim, the Rangers could certainly use a left-handed bat with power in the lineup. LaRoche would provide that.
There are potential issues, though. For starters, LaRoche is a first baseman. That's where he's played his entire career. The Rangers currently have Mitch Moreland (a left-handed hitter) at that position and have talked to Ian Kinsler about playing first, depending on how the team looks in 2013. Certainly plans can change, but LaRoche wouldn't give the club much flexibility (unlike Swisher, who could play corner outfield, for instance).
It's been a while -- remember Mark Teixeira? -- since the Rangers had a first baseman with that kind of power. In fact, LaRoche led all first basemen in the big leagues in homers (Ike Davis was second at 32 and Prince Fielder was third at 30). For comparison, the Rangers got 20 homers total from the first base position in 2012 -- only six teams had fewer in the big leagues. Of that 20, 14 were hit by Moreland (he had 15 homers on the season as one was hit as a pinch-hitter).
As for defense, LaRoche just won his first Gold Glove for his play at first base. So he's got the all-around game to warrant a multiyear deal. One question is whether Texas is willing to give LaRoche a third year.
Another hurdle: draft pick compensation. If the Rangers sign LaRoche, they'd be giving up their first-round draft choice. That's because the Nationals made a one-year qualifying offer to LaRoche, who declined it.
What do you think of LaRoche? Would you sign him to a three-year deal and make him the first baseman? If you do, what does that mean for Kinsler? Does he go to the outfield? How would you use Moreland?