The Washington Nationals and first baseman Adam LaRoche ended their offseason-long stalemate Tuesday and agreed to terms on a two-year contract, returning one of their most valuable players from 2012 to the middle of their lineup while making popular slugger Michael Morse near-certain trade bait.
LaRoche, a reigning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner in the National League, accepted the two-year offer the Nationals had on the table since the late fall. He had been holding out for a three-year deal, but he could not find one in a market stifled by the draft-pick compensation attached to him.
“I think we both were getting tired of the process,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “Adam and I had a few private conversations with each other. I made it clear to Adam, ‘It’s time to get this thing done, make a decision.’ He agreed.”
LaRoche’s signing figures to push the Nationals’ 2013 opening-day payroll past $100 million, the highest it has been in franchise history. According to a person with knowledge of the deal, which LaRoche signed after passing a physical Tuesday, he will earn at least $24 million over two years. He will make $10 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014. The contract includes a mutual option for a third year worth $15 million. If the option is not picked up, LaRoche will receive a $2 million buyout.