Marlins Rumors: Adam LaRoche on Radar?
By Ehsan Kassim
Is Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche on the free agent radar for the Miami Marlins for the 2015 season?
After a disappointing 2014 season from first baseman Garrett Jones, the Miami Marlins are desperately seeking a way to improve their first base production in 2015. While Jones is locked into a $5 million salary next year, the Marlins could look into cutting ties with the former Pirate.
If the Marlins do decide to move on from Jones, it will be interesting to see what the team decides to do at the position. The team has internal options like Justin Bour or shifting second baseman Derek Dietrich to first.
The Marlins can also find their solution on the free agent market. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Marlins have interest in Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche.
"### Add Adam LaRoche to the handful of first basemen of interest to the Marlins in free agency. He hit .259 with 26 homers and 92 RBI for Washington. The Nationals are expected to decline a $15 million mutual option."
LaRoche, who will turn 35 in November, is on the down swing of his career, despite mashing 26 home runs for the Nationals last season. His defense at first is getting worse with age, as defensive metrics rate him anywhere from average to below average, due to his poor range.
However, his 127 wRC+ would be a major upgrade over Jones at the position, as well as his .196 ISO for last season. He has hit at least 20 home runs in each season of his career, except for two. One of those was his rookie season in 2004 when he only got 356 plate appearances and the other in 2011 when he was hurt, compiling only 177 plate appearances.
Steamer projects a .249/.344/.437 slash line for LaRoche for the 2015 season with 25 home runs and a 118 wRC+ in 630 plate appearances. That would be a 19% improvement over what Jones gave to the team in 2014.
Overall, his production would fill a huge offensive gap that the Marlins haven’t had at the position since they traded Carlos Delgado. While his defense maybe nothing to write home about, it should still be an upgrade over what Jones provides this past season.
The team pursuing LaRoche isn’t a bad idea, as long as they keep in mind his age. Offering a deal longer than one or two years to LaRoche could prove to be a major mistake.