Saturday, December 18, 2010

LaRoche Close to Three Year Deal in Baltimore

Jen Royle of MASN Sports has the scoop on the Orioles newly signed first baseman.  The Orioles and Adam LaRoche have officially come terms on a 3 year contract believed to be worth $16-18M.

I'm not really sure what to make of this deal.  On one hand, it's not a terrible deal when you look at it solely on a salary per season basis.  With the average cost of a win on the free agent market being around $5M, LaRoche should have no problems justifying his salary.  (He projects to be a 2 WAR player, on average, over the next three seasons.)  On the other hand, was it really necessary to sign him for three years?  For a 31 year old middle of the road first baseman, I figured they could have signed him for a maximum of two (if not one) years.

Also, Prince Fielder will likely hit the free agent market next year.  If the O's had saved up their pennies, they might have been able to make a serious run at signing him.  After their run for Mark Teixeira a couple of years ago, they showed they're willing to spend the kind of money necessary to make a big splash on the free agent market.  If the Orioles plan on contending in the big bad AL East, they'll need to do two things:  (1) continue to develop talent via the draft and smart trades, and (2) make the occasional big splash on a top talent.  The O's have number one down pat.  Now, they need to find a way to go from being a perennial bride's maid to a bride when it comes to acquiring top free agent talent. 

Still, LaRoche seems to be a decent fit.  As a left handed hitter that consistently hits around 25 home runs per season, he should be able to take advantage of the short porch in right field.  I don't see him having any problem posting a .350 wOBA, while playing average defense at first base.  All-in-all, it's not a bad deal.  He won't hurt the team, and he'll provide enough value to justify his salary.  I just don't think it was necessary for the Orioles to guarantee three years for LaRoche when they could've gotten him for less.

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